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Bed bugs: Who gets and causes

Who gets bed bugs?

Anyone can get bed bugs. An infestation can happen even if your home is spotless. Getting bed bugs has nothing to do with good hygiene and housekeeping.

How do you get bed bugs?

People get bed bugs when they bring bed bugs home with them. It’s easy to do, and you probably won’t notice until you get a few bed bug bites. The bugs can crawl into luggage, clothing, and onto other personal items without anyone noticing.

Places that can have bed bug infestations include:

  • Hotels, motels, and cruise ships

  • Apartment buildings and condominiums

  • Shelters

  • Hospitals and nursing homes

  • Dormitories

  • Buses and trains

You also can bring bed bugs into your home in a secondhand mattress or other piece of used furniture.

Bringing home just a few bed bugs can quickly turn into an infestation because:

  • A female bed bug lays between 200 and 500 eggs during its lifetime

  • The bed bug’s lifespan ranges from 6 to 24 months

  • A bed bug can survive for 12 months or longer without feeding

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “Joint statement on bed bug control in the United States from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010

Fallen, RS, Gooderham, M. “bed bugs: an update on recognition and management.” Skin Therapy Lett. 2011; 16:5-7.

Steen CJ, Carbonaro PA, Schwartz RA. “Arthropods in dermatology.” J Am Acad Dermatol 2004; 50:819-42.