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The Unreported Bed Bug Story

It has been a crazy few weeks for a lot of us in bed bug land, with multiple daily media inquiries from pretty much every corner.

Coverage of this site in particular has shifted from the initial 'bedbugs are back' stories from years past (nearly all of them unfortunately entitled "Don't Let The Bedbugs Bite!") to a focus on what the insects mean for the hotel industry and the various businesses that profit from them, to a recent obsession with whether it's fair to let people report their bed bug encounters on the Internet without seeking the permission of some authority figure.

What I have not seen reported is any warning of what things are going to look like in six months or a year, when bed bugs begin to proliferate in public spaces and start appearing in dorms, airports, restaurants, taxis, public transit, libraries, hospitals, and the whole depressing litany of locations that offer perfect habitat and have only escaped infestation because no intrepid bed bug has found them yet.

It is not hard to see this coming - the insects are spreading at an accelerating rate, there is nothing to stop them, and we're already seeing initial reports from all the public spaces where they were historically a nuisance before being nearly eradicated in the last century. But no one in the press has seemed to draw the obvious conclusion about where the resurgence is headed. Instead, soon we'll hear talk of a bedbug "backlash" after all the recent hysterical press coverage, and a consensus that the bed bug problem has been overhyped, until the media cycle begins again.

Meanwhile the number of infestations will continue to grow, and the prospect of controlling this insect at all will correspondingly recede. The public health response in American and Canadian cities continues to be minimal, and in some cases laughable, at a time when we are rapidly losing the ability to prevent the bed bug becoming as ubiquitous an urban pest as the cockroach.