Bedbugs: What You Need to Know

Bedbugs settle on beds, couches, and recliners. CBS

Bedbugs continue to be a huge problem all across the country, so on the broadcast Thursday, a panel of our "Early Show" experts answered some of your questions submitted via Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

Our resident verinarian, Dr. Debbye Turner Bell, CBS News Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis and CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton provided insight on pet safety and care, mental and physical health, and economic effects of an infestation.

Via Twitter: How is a bed bug bite different looking than a mosquito bite?

Ashton said, "Very good question and very hard to answer because it can be very difficult to distinguish a bedbug from a mosquito bite, let's say, from a pimple, even dermatologists can have a hard time. There a couple of generalizations you can look for. Number one, a bedbug doesn't give that swelling and pink diffuse ring around a bite like a mosquito bite. There may be a little scab in the middle of a bedbug bite where you don't usually see that with other types of bites, especially mosquito bites. Sometimes bedbug bites can cluster around each other. Believe it or not, that's referred to as breakfast, lunch and dinner."

She added, "Depending on the bedbug in your bed is feeding, whether it's been interrupted during the course of meals, they can cluster around each other. Based on the skin color of the individual, darker skin people might be much more difficult to tell."

Do bedbugs transmit disease? And if they do, how do they transmit diseases that I might get if in a hotel somewhere?

Ashton answered, "They do carry about 24 pathogens. But there's to prove they can pass away diseases like mosquitos or ticks, but they can get secondarily infected."

Via Facebook: Can my dogs detect the presence of bedbugs?

Bell answered, "Bedbugs do secrete an oily substance. If there's a large enough infestation, even humans can smell it. Apparently it's a fruity smell. It's also why dogs have been used very effectively to detect bedbugs because they do have this oily substance. The dogs can key in, and have been very effective at helping exterminators find the infestation."
Can dogs catch bedbugs from either sleeping in a bed infested with bedbugs or coming in contact with other dogs that may have had bedbugs?

Bell replied, "Bedbugs are blood feeders. They want a warm-blooded mammal. They prefer human beings, but if a human being is not available, they'll take whatever is available. They'll typically feed from mice or birds more than from dogs, but if you have a bedbug infestation and a dog that sleeps in your bed with you, then the bedbugs can infest the dog."

Via Skype: What is the economic impact of the bedbug on it is normal size family's home? What are some of those costs and how long would you have to stay out of your home?

Jarvis answered, "(It can be a) very substantial, significant sum of money you'll pay. The average family pays upwards of $5,000 just to get rid of bedbugs. That really has to do with all of the different things have you to go through to exterminate and get rid of the problem, beginning with finding the problem. First off, you'll call that exterminator. You'll have them come take a look in your house and have them find out where the problem exists. Sometimes they'll do it for free, but they do the look around for free because they hope to gain your business in the extermination part. Then the betbug-sniffing dogs. But it does add up. All of these services, many times, have to be done more than one time."

Does homeowners insurance cover a bed bug infestation, and if not can you get any kind of bedbug insurance?

Jarvis said, "Unfortunately, are you very much out of luck as far as homeowners insurance goes because a lot of what this is considered by insurance standards is a maintenance problem. You're supposed to exterminate bugs when they're in your house, rodents when they're in your house. Insurance doesn't cover that. What might cover some of that is your FSA, your flexible spending account. A lot of people have these accounts. They'll put money aside before taxes and you can use that money if you've been hurt by bedbugs."

For more with our expert panel, click on the video below.


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