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Bedbugs are not a vector and not known to transmit diseases, but they are pests of public health importance because they suck the blood of people. They can cause physical and mental health problems, as well as economic problems. Recently they have been spreading rapidly through the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. (See endnote 1.)

Best Practices in Bedbug Control (See endnotes 2, 15)

  • • Use the integrated pest management approach including necessary inspections with flashlights, magnifying glasses, and probes to determine how best to eliminate bedbugs.
  • • Do not use bug bombs or foggers, discard beds and bedding not enclosed in plastic, and discard other furniture and infested items since this may only add to the problem by causing the bedbugs to spread.
  • • Immediately report bedbug problems to the proper individuals for treatment and control.
  • • When returning home from traveling or purchasing secondhand clothing or furniture, thoroughly check all luggage, clothing, and furniture for possible bedbugs, and then wash all clothing, both dirty and clean, in a hot wash cycle and wipe down all luggage inside and out with a disinfectant that will kill mites and lice.
  • • Move all furniture away from walls and closely inspect the furniture, remove content from drawers, and launder all clothing and bedding in as hot a wash cycle as your machine allows for laundry. Some items may be dry cleaned and enclosed in plastic.
  • • Lift up the edges of all wall-to-wall carpeting and inspect carefully.
  • • Use compressed air or pyrethrin to flush bedbugs out of cracks and crevices.
  • • Do not use bleach in areas where you have used insecticides because it may cause a chemical reaction and a far more dangerous product.
  • • Use a vacuum cleaner with a nylon or spandex pantyhose fitted tightly over the vacuum hose to catch them and carefully remove physically all bedbugs and eggs especially in cracks and crevices. After use dispose of the nylon or spandex pantyhose immediately in a tightly sealed plastic bag. Be careful to inspect the vacuum cleaner and make sure it is not transmitting bedbugs to other areas. Dispose of vacuum bags in sealed plastic bags.
  • • Use steam cleaning or heat and cold treatments of materials as needed.
  • • Use appropriate pesticides applied by licensed, well-trained pest management personnel, when needed. However, observe the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) health advisory concerning health issues related to the misuse of pesticides for bedbug control. (See endnote 15.)


There are about 2500 different species of fleas in the world. Fleas transmit the causative agents of bubonic plague, murine typhus fever, salmonellosis, and tularemia. Cat fleas are a host of the dog tapeworm, which infects people, especially young children. The bites of all fleas may be very painful.

Best Practices in Controlling Fleas

  • • Use topical or oral flea medication on pets for flea treatment or flea prevention. Check with your veterinarian to determine which of the various medications should be used on the individual pet. (See endnote 3.)
  • • Conduct a comprehensive survey for fleas and flea larvae especially in areas where dogs and cats sleep and away from pedestrian traffic or exposure to sunlight. Adult fleas may have left dried blood and feces in these areas.
  • • Thoroughly clean all areas where adult fleas, flea larvae, or flea eggs can be found by vacuuming rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture, and all crevices, and then launder all pet bedding at least weekly.
  • • Use effective insecticides, only if absolutely necessary, containing insect growth regulator (IGR) methoprene or pyriproxyfen in a hand sprayer or aerosol directly to infested areas of carpets and furniture, while continuing to vacuum at least every 2 weeks. Avoid using room foggers because they do not come in contact with all areas where fleas may be harboring. As a precaution, keep all pets away from these areas until the fleas are gone and the areas are properly decontaminated.
  • • Out of doors if fleas are very concentrated in locations where pets rest and sleep, beneath decks, and next to foundations away from traffic, it will be necessary to use insecticides in these areas. Once again keep all pets away from these areas until all the fleas are gone and the area has been decontaminated.


(See endnote 5)

Houseflies are a major vector in the transmission of diarrheal disease through mechanical transmission from the source of the organisms, such as fecal matter, to the food supply for individuals. Houseflies transmit the organisms of typhoid fever, cholera, polio, etc. The deer fly in the Western United States is involved in the transmission of tularemia. The bites of the horsefly and deer fly may be very painful.

Flies breed very quickly and can complete their development in as little as 7 days in warm weather. Houseflies also contaminate surfaces and food by regurgitating part of what they have eaten, through their feces, and through physical contact with them. Their larvae are attracted to fecal material and rotting garbage, while the adult is attracted to human food sources. They can travel up to 10 miles unless it is very windy when they can travel much further. Blowfly larvae develop inside of things such as rodents, animal waste, and dead people. Fruit flies are found near fermented materials in trash cans and floor drains. Drain flies breed in raw sewage or near broken pipes and need standing water to breed. Phorid flies breed in decaying organic matter and are found typically near hospitals, in restaurants, in the bottom of trash cans, under kitchen equipment, and in drains.

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