Tuesday 17 October 2023
Public Health and the Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation have offered advice to islanders following the reported surge of cases of bedbug infestations in France, linked to both private premises and public spaces, such as cinemas, trains and schools.
The French government, public health agencies and pest control professionals have been supporting the management and eradication of these infestations.
Bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems. Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.
Signs of bedbugs include:
- bites - often on skin exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms,
- spots of blood on your bedding - from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
- small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug droppings).
On white skin, bedbug bites usually look red. On black or brown skin, they may look purple. Some people have a reaction to the bites. They can be very itchy and there may be painful swelling. A severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) is also possible but rare.
Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so, and can be managed by putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling, keeping the affected area clean, not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection. You can also seek advice from a pharmacist, who can suggest that you use a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone cream to ease bedbug bites (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream) or antihistamines - these may help if the bites are very itchy and you are unable to sleep.
If you think you have bedbugs, you should contact the Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01481 221161 or a professional pest control service.
It is very difficult to get rid of bedbugs yourself because they can be hard to find and may be resistant to some insecticides. The Office of Environmental Health and Pollution Regulation does not offer a pest control service for bedbugs but they can offer advice and assist with identification.
There are some things you can try yourself, but these are unlikely to get rid of bedbugs completely
- wash affected bedding and clothing on a hot wash (60C) and tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes
- put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for three or four days
- clean and vacuum regularly - bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early
- keep clutter around your bed
- bring secondhand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first
- take luggage or clothing indoors without checking it carefully if you have come from somewhere where you know there were bedbugs
More information is available from Bedbugs - NHS (www.nhs.uk)