SINGAPORE - A posh hotel, a backpacker's hostel, a foreign worker dormitory and even your bed. What might they have in common? Bedbugs. And lots of them, it seems.
The bugs, which are 4mm to 5mm in size and are usually difficult to spot with the naked eye, are hitchhikers that can be transported from overseas in luggage or on clothing.
Fortunately, although irritating, bedbugs do not carry diseases.
Hotels and foreign worker dormitories which see large numbers of foreigners come and go every day, are bedbug hotspots. The situation is especially bad in foreign worker dormitories, where operators often pay little attention to workers' living conditions, said Ms Ong.
In rental flats, where residents live in close proximity with one another and where hygiene standards are not as high, bedbug infestation can spread from unit to unit in a matter of days.
It is a big problem in at least five Housing Board neighbourhoods with rental blocks, with many elderly residents the unintentional hosts of these bloodsucking insects, said a report in The Straits Times.
Corridor and household clutter, common in one-room rental flats, are optimal hiding places for bedbugs.
Said SPMA president Andrew Chan: "Many old folks in rental flats also have the habit of bringing home recycled furniture, which might be infested with bedbugs."
In the past year, Mr Ng has seen more well-maintained residential units, offices and even five-star hotels being infested by bedbugs. "Just because you don't see them on the exterior doesn't mean they don't exist," he said.
Ms Ong also warned that bedbug cases are more common than they seem.
"Cinemas, public buses - they (bedbugs) really are everywhere."
"You only need to have a pregnant bedbug, or a pair of mating bedbugs on you or in your bag for infestation to spread," she said. But until there is greater openness on the subject of bedbugs, any attempt to deal with the growing problem will be largely ineffective, Ms Ong added.
She said: "Many hotels and business don't like to admit or talk about their bedbug issue from fear of consumer backlash."
MYTH: Bedbug infestation arises because a place is dirty or cluttered.
FACT: Bedbugs travel with humans and therefore, wherever people congregate, there is a chance the pest gets picked up, even in the cleanest places. But dirty and cluttered places are ideal hiding spots for bedbugs.
MYTH: Bedbugs live in beds only.
FACT: Bedbugs can also nest in bedside tables, wardrobes and within crevices of nearby walls. In general, bedbugs are attracted to places where they sense carbon dioxide and heat.
MYTH: Commercial bedbug sprays can solve bedbug infestation.
FACT: Do-it-yourself bedbug sprays can only treat an early case of localised infestation. For more severe cases, however, engaging pest-control companies for a thorough extermination of the suspected infested area is the best option.
MYTH: I suffered bites on my bed. I must have a case of bedbug infestation.
FACT: Bites can also be caused by mosquitos. Check if the bites are clustered. If they are, you were probably bitten by a bedbug.
MYTH: I can prevent bedbug infestation by placing a bowl of pesticide at the legs of the bed.
FACT: Bedbugs may already be nesting under your bedsheets, within your mattresses and beneath your bed. Bedbugs can also reach your bed by dropping from the ceiling.
6 TELL-TALE SIGNS OF BEDBUGS
1 Live bedbugs
2 Bedbug droppings, made up of digested blood
3 Bedbug carcasses
4 Bedbug exoskeleton shed during moulting.
5 Bloodspots around bed area.
6 Itchy bites that are close to one another
This article was first published on December 23, 2013.
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