Due to the resurgence of bed bugs, the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Developmental Disabilities would like to provide agencies with a summary of important information regarding this environmental health concern.

Definition of Bed Bugs (most commonly Cimex lectularius)

  • Bed bugs are small flat insects (about the size of an apple seed) that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals.
  • Bed bugs are experts at escaping detection. They will hide during the day in places like mattress seams, bed frames, headboards, dressers, cracks or crevices in the wall, wallpaper, or electrical covers.
  • Bed bugs are active at night, when they will leave their hiding place to find a host to feed on.
  • Bed bugs are transported from place to place on people, their clothing, or in their luggage.
  • The risk of encountering bed bugs is higher in places where there is a high turnover of residents- such as hospitals, hotels, and homeless shelters.

Symptoms of Bed Bug Infestation

  • The bite of the bed bug may look similar to that of a flea bite or a mosquito bite. The bite may cause a slightly raised, red, swollen area that may itch or burn.
  • Signs of bed bug infestation may include: bites as described above that appear anywhere on the body, bugs found in the area of the mattress or sleeping area, dark specks found on or along mattress seams that would indicate bedbug excrement, or bloody smears on the sheets with no other explanation.
  • The bed bug is not known to transmit any disease, but it is a significant environmental health concern.

Treatment and Control of Infestation

  • There are various techniques for treatment and control. The integration of environmental treatments utilizing heat, steam and other cleaning techniques with judicious use of pesticides seems to be a common approach. Monitoring of the area after treatment for signs of treatment failure or recurrence is important.
  • A pest control professional that has experience with bed bug treatment should be consulted if infestation is suspected.

For more information regarding bed bugs please contact your local health department or visit:  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site.

This advisory is not intended as a sole area for information and advice. It is only to serve as information for a basic understanding of the subject.