C’mon folks–let’s not go nuts.  You’ve got a bedbug problem–hire an exterminator; don’t try to do it on your own.  Duh!  A recent government report has disclosed that scores of Americans have fallen ill by playing bug executioner, and they are endangering family members in the process, including their children.

The report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention showed that 80 illnesses and one death were linked to indoor insecticide use over the last three years.  Most of the cases were in New York, where bedbug infestations have been highly publicized due to a recent revival.  However, the CDC has collected data from twelve states, where seven reported accidental poisonings from insecticides used against the microscopic blood-suckers.

About 90% of the cases were linked to pyrethroids or pyrethrins, insecticides commonly used against bedbugs. Such products are not a health risk to most people but should still be applied by a trained exterminator, said Dr. Susi Vassallo, an emergency medicine doctor who works at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Center and occasionally treats patients who report bedbug problems.

Although bedbugs pose no risk to people, some are getting hysterical over bugs feeding on them while they sleep, and are resorting to drastic measures.  A 65-year-old woman from Rocky Mount, N.C., with a history of heart trouble and other ailments, died after one such response.  She and her husband used nine cans of insecticide fogger one day, then the same amount two days later, without opening doors and windows to air out their home afterward.  She also covered her body and hair with another bedbug product, and covered her hair with a plastic shower cap.

Unsuspecting people have also been getting ill.  Take, for instance, two carpet cleaners who had not been told that an apartment they worked in had recently been treated with pesticides. Two others were emergency medical technicians who responded to a scene and were exposed to a white powder believed to be a pesticide.  Duh, people!

In some cases, a more dangerous and inappropriate product was used as the insecticide.  In 2010 in Ohio, a non-certified exterminator used malathion to rid an apartment of bedbugs, even though the chemical is never supposed to be used indoors. A couple and their 6-year-old child got sick.

Okay here goes: First off, use an exterminator.  Doing it yourself when it comes to toxic chemicals is not a good idea.  Would you do your own electrical wiring?  Forget I asked.  And if you do decide to be the bug executioner, can you at least try reading the labels on your products?  Duh?  Malathion?  Fer cryin’ out loud!  And could you please have the decency to tell your guests, workers, landlord or parents of your kids’ friends that you’ve just sprayed toxic chemicals in your home?  Can they have a choice…please?

I wouldn’t like bedbugs, either–but I’m not going to endanger my family over a freakout.  If you can’t drop the coin for professional help, then maybe follow some guidelines, like these set forth by the National Park Service: You’ve got to fill cracks and crevices with caulk in ceilings, walls and corners.  And boric acid works well, although it’s toxic to humans and animals, too.  And clean your house, dagnamit!  I know nobody wants to accept this part of the equation, but it’s not a judgment…just a fact.  Be smart about fighting bedbugs–that’s all.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Nick Campos - All Rights Reserved.