111 ill from pesticides used on bed bugs

Sept. 23, 2011 at 12:17 AM
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ATLANTA, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- There were 111 cases of acute illness confirmed from the use of insecticides to control bed bugs in seven states from 2003 to 2010, U.S. officials say.

The report, published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, said 93 percent if the cases occurred among people living in private homes where the pesticides were applied by do-it-your-selfers. The ailments most frequently involved nervous system, respiratory, and gastrointestinal effects, the report said.

"Frequently contributing factors included excessive insecticide application, failure to wash or change pesticide-treated bedding, and either a lack of notification or ineffective notification of pesticide application," the report said.

"Although the number of acute illnesses from insecticides used to control bed bugs does not suggest a large public health burden, such incidents can have serious health effects."

In the report, health officials suggested ways to keep cases from escalating, including strengthening media campaigns to educate the public about bed bug-related issues and including non-chemical methods to control the pests as well as methods to prevent infestation in the first place, such as avoiding the purchase of used mattresses, box springs and bedding.

If pesticides are warranted, certified applicators should do the application, health officials said.

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