A national pest control company says it did more business in Chicago for bed bugs last year, than any other city. But one Chicago doctor isn’t biting.
“As a major city with a large, diverse population and many international visitors, Chicago does have its bed bug problems but I still tend to think New York ranks higher,” says Joseph Leija, MD, who performs the Gottlieb Allergy Count for Loyola University Health System.
New York was ranked 10th on the list.
Dr. Leija does readily admit that he has treated his share of patients who came in complaining of itching. “A family came in covered in bed bug bites from infested ‘free’ furniture they found in an abandoned apartment,” said Leija.
“The couple had only taken the wooden headboards and baseboards of the beds – not the mattresses because they knew that would be unsanitary – as well as a table and chairs. The bugs were found in the tiny crevices,” he said.
Dr. Leija has also cared for patients with bed bug bites traced back to clothing purchased at neighborhood garage sales and resale stores.
“Bed bugs are insidious survivors who travel well – they hide in cracks in wood and in the weave of cloth,” said Dr. Leija of the parasite known scientifically as Cimex lectularius. “They are vampires – they are dormant during the day but come out at night and feed on human blood.”
Bed bugs have a set of pinchers: they use one to pierce the skin and inject saliva which contains anticoagulants and a numbing solution, while the other pincher sucks the blood of its host, Dr. Leija said.
“The male bed bug also uses the pincher to pierce the abdomen of the female during reproduction, and bed bugs reproduce rapidly,” he said.
Bed bugs find their prey by seeking carbon dioxide or warmth, to indicate a warm-blooded animal.
“The bites can result in a skin rash or even large weeping blisters due to allergic reaction,” said Dr. Leija. “But for many, the psychological damage is greater than what they suffer physically.”
Source: Loyola University Health System