Terminix, a major pest control company that annually ranks major cities in the U.S. based on the number of bedbug infestations confirmed, has ranked Philadelphia the most bedbug infested city in the U.S. for 2012.
Philadelphia took the top position from New York City, ranked the most bedbug infested city in the past two years.
Terminix reports that the ranking comes from data gathered from 300 Terminix branches across the country and are based on customer service calls and confirmed cases from service professionals.
According to Time, Cincinnati came second in this year's ranking and New York, the former "champion," came third.
Terminix says that the 2012 ranking proves bedbugs continue to be problem across the country with five cities – Cleveland, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami and New Haven – having joined the top 15 this year. The company lists Columbus, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as cities that saw the greatest bedbug population growth in 2012. The company singles out Ohio as "hotbed of [bedbug] activity."
According to Time, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) are parasites that feed on human blood. The are found in bed mattresses and similar household furniture. The bugs usually attack victims during sleep and symptoms include itchy red welts on the skin and in some cases allergic reactions.
According to Terminix, there is an ongoing national bed bug epidemic that began a few years ago. Stoy Hedges, entomologist at Terminix, said: "Bedbugs continue to increase their presence across the U.S. While major metropolitan areas are most at risk, it is important to note that bedbugs have been spotted in cities and towns across the country."
Time reports that the company warns that the epidemic will likely spread to more cities as the pests hitch rides on summer travelers. The company advises that to avoid infestation, travelers should check hotel mattresses, headboards and box springs. According to Time, the company advises people to always hang their clothes and not store them in drawers or lay them out on beds and furniture. Luggage should be kept on the luggage rack and as far away from the floor as possible, Time reports.
The company advises that to avoid spreading the bugs after exposure, travelers should vacuum suitcases and wash their clothing in hot water when they return home. In neighborhoods that are infested, people are advised to take measures such as covering mattresses and box springs with bug-proof plastic cover.
And finally, Terminix advises people to call an exterminator if they think they have contracted the bugs. People are warned that bed bugs are difficult to get rid off without expert help.
According to Time, consumer "bug bombs" and "foggers" are often ineffective and consumers often apply excessive quantities of chemical pesticides that can cause illnesses and even death.
The Inquisitr reports that Terminix officials warn that the bed bug population is not restricted to urban areas but that they are spreading to non-urban areas too.