Bed Bug Infestations in Nursing Homes & Assisted Living Facilities

If you find yourself dealing with a bed bug infestation, it is essential to take action quickly. Bed bugs are not only a nuisance, but they can cause serious health problems and spread quickly. Although bed bug outbreaks have been reported in other areas of public accommodations, such as hotels and dormitories, the problem is most common in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

The longer a bed bug infestation goes undetected, the worse it becomes. We have seen the damage that can be done to a facility’s reputation and its ability to retain new residents due to an exposed bed bug infestation. The effects on families are even more devastating.

Identify the risk factors of bed bugs in nursing homes and ALF’s

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are attractive to bed bugs for several reasons:

  • Concentrating large numbers of people under one roof—or even in one room—makes it easier for bed bugs to spread from person to person. In some facilities, the number of residents per room is as high as eight or 10. The tight clustering of rooms also makes it difficult for facility managers to monitor bed bugs.
  • Like any other business, nursing homes experience seasonal fluctuations in occupancy rates. But unlike hotels and dormitories, which usually see an exodus of residents and a flurry of cleaning activity during summer months or around holidays, nursing home beds are rarely empty for long periods. As a result, bed bugs can continue to thrive without significant disruption from insecticides or vacuums that would otherwise help control their spread.
  • The common bed bug is also found in nursing homes and hospitals because these locations have multiple opportunities for human blood meals and harbor large populations of potential hosts. Bed bugs can survive for weeks without a meal, but they prefer to feed on a warm-blooded host.
  • Many bed bugs that survive in hospitals, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities are resistant to pesticides. Therefore, it is critical to use an integrated pest management approach to control this pest when treating a facility that houses vulnerable populations. In addition, identifying areas where these pests may be hiding will help to prevent future infestations in these areas.
  • Bed bugs can hide in plain sight inside medical facilities. During an inspection, look for cracks or openings along baseboards, adjacent furniture, electrical outlets, light fixtures, behind wall hangings or pictures, and under loose wallpaper near the ceiling. Bed bug eggs are tiny (about a pinhead) and whitish-colored with a rounded top. One female bed bug can lay about 200 eggs during her lifetime.

Tips for handling bed bugs in nursing homes and ALF’s

Bed bugs were making a comeback in nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the nation. While bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, they are a massive nuisance for the elderly and infirm, who may be unable to escape from them in their beds.

Treatment can be complex because of the infirmities of the victims. Some people have died from anaphylactic shock from bed bug bites. Many nursing homes or assisted living facilities (ALFs) may not have a pest control professional on staff, which can mean an increased risk of infestation by bed bugs. Here are some tips for dealing with bed bugs in nursing homes:

  1. Use a professional exterminator. Many nursing home employees don’t know how to identify bed bug infestations — and many will say they do when they don’t. This can cause you to waste a lot of time, money, and effort on treatments that will never work.
  2. Make sure your loved one’s room is clear of clutter. Bed bugs like hiding in clutter, so keeping the room as clean as possible will help prevent an infestation from developing.
  3. Check for signs of an infestation — dark spots or blood marks on the sheets or mattress coverings, as well as itchy bites on your loved one’s skin. If you suspect an infestation, have a qualified exterminator perform a thorough inspection. Conduct a thorough inspection of all areas affected by bed bugs, including rooms, storage units, laundry rooms, and building exteriors, such as vents, drains, and walls.
  4. Isolate the area where the suspected infestation has been discovered or reported. To prevent the spread of bed bugs, isolate patients from the place where bed bug activity has been found or suspected. Move the patient immediately to another room on a different floor or section of the facility if no other rooms are available. 
  5. Sticky traps or monitors are inexpensive and can help detect infestations early. Please place them in the corners of the rooms near beds, chairs, or couches. Check them regularly for the presence of bed bugs.

In reality, bed bugs are hitchhikers. They can ride into a facility on someone’s clothing or in their luggage. Any new resident or visitor can bring in bed bugs. In fact, any staff member, resident, or visitor could unknowingly bring bed bugs into a facility.

A comprehensive approach to preventative maintenance is the best way to control a potential infestation. Facilities must be proactive about inspecting for bed bug activity. That includes gathering information from residents, staff, and visitors about sightings of bed bugs or their signs (i.e., blood spots on sheets).

If you feel as though you may have a bed bug infestation and would like to talk to our one of our knowledgeable experts, please feel free to  contact us at (813) 922-8475 so that we can help answer your questions and discuss the entire treatment process and options available to you. 

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