Clermont County Public Health investigates insect/vermin complaints involving bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, mice, and rats. These species can inhabit human dwellings and since they are potential carriers of human diseases, they are regulated by Public Health when inhabiting the residential property.
Although bedbugs are not known to carry any human diseases Public Health will investigate complaints about these insects, and issue orders for treatment if necessary. Spiders, ants, termites, sow bugs, and other insects which do not carry the human disease are not a health concern and are not regulated by Public Health.
Types of Insect/Vermin Complaints
Bed bugs are small (about ¼ inch), brown, oval-shaped, flat insects which inhabit human dwellings. They hide during the day and feed on people at night while they are sleeping. Their bite produces white welts which may itch severely. The bugs can be crushed by a sleeper during the night and leave bloodstains on the sheets. If these signs are present the first place to look for the bugs is on the mattress, particularly at the seams.
Bed bugs lay 1 to 12 eggs every day on rough surfaces or in cracks where they can easily adhere. The eggs hatch in 6 to 17 days and the nymphs can feed immediately. The nymphs are much smaller and white, but turn red when they’ve had a blood meal. Bed bugs reach maturity after five molts in about 21 days. Adults can live 12 to 18 months without a blood meal.
Bed bugs will hide in every place they can find, behind light switch covers, in electronics, toys, furniture, clothing, picture frames, and knick-knacks. If there is a severe infestation bed bugs may be seen during the day on the walls or ceiling.
Infested items which cannot be treated must be discarded, or sealed in bags and stored 12-18 months until the bed bugs die. Mattresses can be treated with an appropriate pesticide, and then sealed in a plastic mattress bag. Bed bugs can be effectively eliminated from clothing, curtains, and bed linens by washing them in hot water and/or drying for 15 to 30 minutes on the hot setting. Dry clothing should be kept sealed in plastic bags until needed. Upholstered furniture is difficult to treat, and professional steam cleaning may be required.
Without treatment bed bugs will spread to every part of a home, so begin treatment as soon as they are discovered. Hiring a professionally licensed exterminator is strongly recommended. The chemical treatment of a bed bug infestation is best left to a professional exterminator. Only a licensed exterminator has access to the restricted-use pesticides which are most effective. The pesticides available to non-licensed persons will probably not achieve effective control. Also, the indiscriminate use of pesticides can create an environmental hazard, or a health hazard, and can cause pests to develop a resistance to pesticides.
If self-treating, look for a pesticide labeled for use against bedbugs. A pesticide which is not labeled for use against a particular bug will not kill that bug. Insect repellents with DEET will not repel bedbugs. There is currently no known chemical safe for use on humans which will repel bed bugs.
Whether a professional exterminator is hired or not, there are things the occupants should do to control bed bugs. In addition to the things already mentioned, it is important to eliminate clutter. Bed bugs will be difficult or impossible to eradicate if there is clutter such as clothing and toys on the floor. The home should be vacuumed daily, and the bag emptied or discarded (bed bugs can crawl out of the bag). Dead bed bugs should remove promptly as they may contain an egg which can hatch. Spraying bed bugs with 90% isopropyl rubbing alcohol will kill them on contact, but alcohol is a solvent which may mark furniture finishes.
Bed bugs are brought into a home by several means. An occupant can bring them home on used furniture from infested homes. They can hitch a ride on clothing, bags, bedding, and toys when visiting an infested home. Visitors who live in an infested home can carry bedbugs to other homes. Bedbugs can travel through the walls from an infested unit in an apartment building to other units.
If bed bugs or other vermin are found in a rental unit the landlord or manager is responsible for hiring an exterminator since an exterminator cannot treat without the owner’s permission. Commonly the tenant and the landlord share the cost of treatment. Public Health does not become involved in disputes over the cost of treatment. Surrounding units should be checked for bedbugs, and treated if necessary. As a rule, pesticides should not be applied where no pests are found.
If forced to visit a home which is known or suspected to be infested with bed bugs avoid sitting, particularly on upholstered furniture, and especially avoid sleeping in the home. If possible, wear a coverall, and change clothes immediately after leaving the infested home. Bag clothing or other items which may contain bed bugs, and wash or treat as soon as possible.
Bed bug infestations can be costly and are very aggravating. It is best to avoid an infestation. One bedbug or one egg brought home can start an infestation. Carefully check any used furniture brought home. Check mattresses even if they are bought new before bringing them into your home. Be careful who you visit, and who you invite into your home.
For more information on bed bugs please visit the Ohio State University.
Treatment of cockroach infestations is best left to a professional exterminator. Chemical control measures will be ineffective if poor housekeeping is an issue. Food and garbage in the household should be strictly managed so that vermin such as cockroaches and mice do not have access to it. Floors, food preparation surfaces, cabinets, and appliances should be kept scrupulously clean at all times.
If cockroaches are found in the home control measures should be implemented as soon as possible. In an apartment building surrounding units should be checked for roaches, and treated if necessary.
Fleas can transmit human diseases, and also tapeworms. A flea bite may produce a small, hard, red, slightly raised itching spot with a single puncture point in the center. Adult fleas are about 1/16 of an inch long, dark reddish-brown, wingless, and flattened vertically. Fleas pass through a complete life cycle consisting of egg, larvae, pupa, and adult. Females lay 15 to 20 eggs per day which hatch in two days to two weeks.
Flea control is best achieved with a combination of control measures including sanitation, pet treatment, and treatment of the premises (indoors and outdoors). Clutter should be removed from the floor, and areas, where fleas are found or suspected, should be vacuumed thoroughly every day. Pet bedding should be changed and washed daily or discarded.
Many pesticides are available on the market for treatment of fleas on pets and the premises. Treat pets and the premises at the same time for successful flea control. Before application of a pesticide read the directions on the label. Follow all directions and safety precautions. DEET is an effective repellent against fleas.
Measures for the control of fleas in a rental unit must be performed by the tenant. If a flea infestation spreads from a unit into the common areas of an apartment building, then it is the responsibility of the landlord to treat the common areas.
Rats and mice are natural inhabitants of the outdoor environment and are not ordinarily considered a health nuisance issue as long as they remain outdoors. Public Health cannot control animals in the outdoor environment but does regulate the storage and disposal of garbage, which can attract rats and other vermin.
Rats and mice in the home create a health nuisance issue, and should not be allowed to remain. Setting traps or poisoned bait are the usual control measures, but these will be ineffective if these rodents are not kept out of the building. Holes or other entry points need to be found and blocked.