Bedbugs: How to Counter Their Comeback

Bed bugs are horrible to think about, and even worse to see. And now, more than ever, we're seeing them a lot.

"Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith pointed out on the broadcast Thursday the worst case of bedbugs may be in Ohio, which is now called the "Bed Bug Capital of the United States." State officials there held a crisis meeting yesterday with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about the use of certain pesticides to contain the pests.

But it's not confined to that state for sure. In New York City, an infested movie theater complex was sprayed, and some seats were replaced before it was reopened again. In recent months, several chain stores, such as Hollister and Victoria's Secret, were reportedly facing infestations in the city.

Special Section: Dr. Jennifer Ashton
Video Series: Dr. Ashton's Health and Wellness
Bed Bug Lingerie Infestation

So why have bedbugs sprung up so much lately?

CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said many theories exist, but could be linked to the ecosystem's fluctuations.

"Certain species become extinct, certain species flourish. That happens throughout history," she said.

Additionally, she said there could be some insecticide resistance at play. Travel, she added, may also be a factor. With people moving, staying in hotels and coming from different parts of the world, she said, "We're just seeing them more."

But are they dangerous?

Ashton said, "Well, you would think they would be, right? Because they, in fact, feed on our blood. So, the thinking is that they could do the same thing to us as mosquitoes. There's no evidence of that. (We have) no evidence they can spread blood borne diseases. What they can do is cause inflammation, itchiness in the bug bite, occasionally they can become super infected and need antibiotics."

However, Ashton said, there's a mental health aspect to a bedbug infestation.

She said, "This can cause significant stress if you have bedbugs in your living environment, it can make you crazy -- there's a big 'ick' factor. It can disturb sleep. People are sleeping out of their homes."
So how do you make sure you don't get them?

Ashton said, "First of all, when traveling, you want to put your luggage on racks. Don't put your suitcases on beds or the floor. Put them in the closet."

She continued, "In your home, there are a couple of things you can do. They like clutter. They like places where they can hide in dark and cuddly environments so you want to actually vacuum often and regularly. In top of when you clean your clothes, you want to clean them in hot water. Might not be so eco-friendly, but it will kill the bed bugs. Use a clothes dryer to dry your clothes. They do -- they will become exterminated by freezing now. Sometimes you can put a sheet in your ice box, but actually you'll probably need professional help with an exterminator."

Smith added, "There are sheets you can also buy that actually cover the entire mattress. They like to get in the crevices."

Ashton said, "We've seen that before. You want to check the area of the mattress where the seams are. These are about a quarter of an inch, so you can see them. Sometimes you just see the blood stains."

"Ick factor," Smith said.

Ashton replied, "No joke."

For more on bedbugs, go to WebMD here.
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