Bed bug treatment kills lady
With Bed Bugs, the Cure May Be Worse Than the Disease
Bloodsucking bed bugs have made a comeback in recent years. But as victims
of infestation have become increasingly desperate to rid their homes of the
bedeviling pests, many have only done themselves more harm.
bugs do not transmit disease or cause illness — but the insecticides used to
kill them do. A total of 111 illnesses associated with bed bug-related
insecticides were reported in seven states between 2003 and 2010 (mostly in
the last three years), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday.
Most cases of poisoning were not severe, but the data included one death.
case involved a 65-year-old woman in North Carolina who died in 2010. After
she complained to her husband about bed bugs, the CDC
report said, he saturated the interior of their home, including
the baseboards, walls and the area around the bed, with the insecticide
Ortho Home Defense Max. He then applied a different product, Ortho Lawn and
Garden Insect Killer, to their mattress and box spring. Neither insecticide
is registered for use against bed bugs, the CDC said.
day, the couple also released nine cans of Hot Shot Fogger in their home.
Two days later, they reapplied the insecticides and unleashed nine more cans
of Hot Shot Bedbug and Flea Fogger. The woman then applied the pesticide Hot
Shot Bed Bug and Flea Killer directly to her arms and chest, and doused her
hair with it before covering her head with a plastic cap.
days later, her husband found her unresponsive. She was taken to the
hospital where she remained on a ventilator for nine days until she died.
The woman had had a history of health problems, including kidney failure,
heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and
depression, the CDC report said. She had been taking at least 10 medications
at the time of her death.
How to Avoid, Detect and Defeat the Bed Bug
other cases where the factors contributing to insecticide-related illness
could be determined, the CDC found that excessive insecticide application
was among the most frequently reported. Other contributors included the
failure to wash or change pesticide-treated bedding, as well as the improper
use of pesticides. People used outdoor-only bug killers inside, for example,
or sprayed insecticides not meant for use on humans or against bed bugs.
Nearly 90% of exposures involved insecticides containing pyrethroids,
pyrethrins or both.
Aside from the one reported death, most other cases of poisoning were mild.
Commonly reported symptoms of exposure included headache and dizziness,
breathing difficulties, nausea and vomiting.
actual number of insecticide-related illnesses may be far higher than found
in the CDC study, because it included only those that were reported to a
surveillance system in 12 states. Further, many people experiencing minor
symptoms, who didn't seek medical treatment or advice from a poison control
center, would not have been captured by the system.
nearly 40% of cases of insecticide-related illness, extermination was
attempted by consumers who weren't certified to use pesticides. The problem
is only being made worse by bed bugs' increasing resistance to commonly
available pesticides, the CDC said, which may further drive people's misuse
of toxic chemicals.
Bed Bugs Were Bad? Try Bed Bugs with MRSA
lower the risk, the CDC recommends that people with bed bug problems seek
professional pest control companies that employ both chemical and
non-chemical methods to eradicate bed bugs. The report advises:
and EPA promote integrated pest management (IPM) for bed bug control. IPM is
an effective pest control method that uses information on the life cycle of
the pest and incorporates nonchemical and chemical methods. Nonchemical
methods to effectively control bed bugs include heating infested rooms to
118°F (48°C) for 1 hour or cooling rooms to 3°F (-16°C) for 1 hour by
professional applicators; encasing mattresses and box springs with bed
bug–excluding covers; and vacuuming, steaming, laundering, and disposing of
Do-it-yourselfers should follow product instructions carefully. For more
information on the safe use of pesticides, you can download the
Environmental Protection Agency's safety guide here.
The CDC's full report on insecticide-related illness is available here.
to Build Your Own Bed Bug Detector
Meredith Melnick is a reporter at TIME.
Find her on Twitter at @MeredithCM.
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