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Bedbug Summit Takes Aim at the Pests

Bedbugs are back with a vengeance.

Over the past few days alone, the critters have been reported from college dorms in Pennsylvania and North Carolina to Marine barracks at Camp Lejeune.

And now, a first-of-its-kind "bed bug summit" is kicking off in Rosemont, Ill., outside Chicago.

Early Show" Consumer Correspondent Susan Koeppen says the summit brings together some of the leading experts on bedbugs to explore ways to solve the rampant problem.

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She says the summit is not only sold out, it's going to be standing-room-only. There's a waiting list to get in.

"Everybody seems to be here," Koeppen observed, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Environmental Protection Agency to representatives from the military, colleges and universities.

It seems, Koeppen says, as if, "Everyone is bugging out about bedbugs, and everyone is looking for solutions."

No bigger than an apple seed, "The little bloodsuckers have caused big problems," Koeppen notes.

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They took another bite in the Big Apple this weekend, when an infestation shut down Niketown's flagship store in Manhattan - the latest addition to an expanding list of major retailers and corporations that have been affected. Even the Empire State Building, she says, has been overrun by bedbugs.

According to a study by Terminex, New York tops the list of the 15 most bedbug-infested cities in the country. The others, in order are:

1. New York, NY
2. Philadelphia, PA
3. Detroit, MI
4. Cincinnati, OH
5. Chicago, IL
6. Denver, CO
7. Columbus, OH
8. Dayton, OH
9. Washington, DC
10. Los Angeles, CA
11. Boston, MA
12. Indianapolis, IN
13. Louisville, KY
14. Cleveland, OH
15. Minneapolis, MN

Ohio is the most bedbug-infested state.

Louis Sorkin, an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History, told Koeppen, "There are just many more places where bedbugs will be found. … It's actually been building up over many, many years."

Experts call it a pandemic with no end in sight.

Asked by Koeppen how many cities have bedbugs, Phillip Cooper, CEO of summit host BedBug Central, responded rhetorically, "How many cities are there?"

He says "nobody knows" why there are so many bedbugs.

In the past year, 95 percent of pest control companies have encountered bedbug infestations, and, according to the National Pest Management Association, the cost of eradicating the bugs has soared, topping $258 million last year.

"I'm in hotels every week. What are the chances I'm bringing them home?" Koeppen wondered.

"You will be bringing them home. Guaranteed," Cooper replied.

On display at the convention, products growing from the all-out assault on bedbugs, from zip-up bags to put your suitcase in, to steamers for your mattress, and everything in-between.

There's even what amounts to an oven for your suitcase. You put in the "oven" when you get home and turn it on. It heats up and kills the bugs. The cost? About $325.

Cooper said, "At BedBug Central, we truly believe there is light at the end of the tunnel (for the bedbug problem). The question is - when?"

If you do get bed bugs, Koeppen says, getting rid of them can be expensive: $2,000 or more to rid an average-sized house of the little creatures.

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