Bedbugs are pretty nasty. Just imagine those little narly dudes having the time of their short lives, chowing down, if you will, as you lay immobile dreaming of some far off place. As unpleasant as this vision seems, it turns out that these creatures do not carry any known disease and in fact other than a few small itchy bumps are really more of a nuisance than a health threat.
In stark contrast to this are the treatments which are promoted to eradicate bedbugs. Not only can these “cures” easily drain your pocketbook, the cures are often worse than the disease. The CDC or Centers for Disease Control recently published an analysis of 111 cases of complications of treatment for bedbugs, including one fatality. These cases occurred in just seven states from 2003 through 2010.
Pesticides are not known as gentle or environmentally friendly agents. They can also cause significant illness in humans ranging from mild cases of dizziness and vomiting to severe symptoms of seizures, coma and even death. It makes sense if you are living in say a small village in a South American jungle to consider using some to eradicate those mosquitoes which carry mosquitoes. It makes less sense to spray the heck out of your patio, just so you can grill a few burgers. And it makes no sense whatsoever to spray your bed or your clothes to kill off bedbugs.
You might with a little luck knock out the bad boys but the next time your kids and their friends start a jumping contest on your bed-guess what? They might have brought along even smaller friends-ie bedbugs. And given the choice of spending a night with bedbugs or some carcinogenic, exotic chemicals I’ll choose the former.
The one fatality happened when a well meaning but not very bright husband attempted to treat his wife, who suffered from multiple medical problems as well. He sprayed the mattress several times, and used no less than 9 cans of bugspray on his wife. He repeated the process the next night as well.
Without a doubt most of us would never carry a bedbug treatment to such an extreme. I mention this case only as a warning. Bedbugs do not kill people; insecticides can.