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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Introducing the Bedbug Registry

Published September 15, 2010 12:23 PM by Joe Darrah

Let me apologize up front if you're one of those people who are more comfortable with having not known about a potentially uncomfortable (not life-threatening) situation as opposed to knowing about it, having the opportunity to gauge your exposure and deciding whether or not to take caution moving forward.

In other words, if ignorance is your bliss, you may not want to read what follows this sentence.

For those of you who are still with me, let me tell you about the Bedbug Registry - a free Internet database that relies on U.S. and Canadian travelers to report any creepy crawlers they find during their stays.

According to the site (, there have been 20,000 reports covering 12,000 locations made in the U.S. and Canada since the site launched in 2006. Though the site claims most Americans have never come across bedbugs, which are described by the Mayo Clinic as reddish-brown, oval, flat insects about the size of an apple seed.

Bedbug Symptoms

While signs of bed bug bites are pretty generic compared to bites of other insects (redness, itching), more telling signs include bites that are arranged in a rough line or cluster, and allergic reactions such as severe itching, blisters and hives have been recorded.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the risk of being bitten by a bedbug increases the more time one spends in places where there's a high turnover of night guests. As one who travels a handful of times each year for business and pleasure, on average, I've yet to encounter any bedbugs. But a quick glance at the registry shows reports of bedbug incidences at two locations in which I've stayed in my home town (Philadelphia).

For those who frequent the Mid Atlantic and New England areas, the registry's interactive map is a sea of red, denoting the most reports of bedbug cases. The registry labels the New York metro area as owning the worst infestation in the U.S. with more than 4,000 reports. San Francisco has about a reported 450 reports that are concentrated in the Tenderloin District and Los Angeles is said to have 403 reports.

In what would probably label me as a "germaphobe" in most people's eyes, I already avoid using remote controls in hotel rooms in light of numerous reports that claim clickers are rampant landing pads for germs because they're handled by many people and never cleaned.

Now, I feel I may need to sleep on the floor, in the bathtub or even attempt to do so standing up whenever traveling and vacationing.

Bed Bug History

According to the Mayo Clinic, bedbugs have existed for thousands of years. The use of DDT after World War II reportedly eliminated them from most developed nations, but that pesticide has since been banned since the early 1970s because it's been deemed toxic to the environment, wildlife and human health.

Professional help is often needed in the event bedbugs follow you home.

Happy travels!



I was within a day of making a hotel reservation at a usual travel destination when I learned about the bedbugregistry.

I decided to check never believing that this hotel would have had any.


29 rooms had had them and they'd been eradicated.

My question is would it be safer to stay in a place that had had the bad experience, had them exterminated, and very recently, too, knowing what to look out for, or might there be some left in hiding...or should I go instead to a new place, and maybe be the first to report bites from there if I am unlucky. Or sleep in the car.

carol, ICU - retired RN October 3, 2010 11:53 AM
Barrington RI

Like Joe, I travel for business. On a recent trip to Las Vegas, the first thing I did was check the bed for bedbugs. Dr. Oz had a segment on these on a recent show. I did what he said (strip back the sheets and look in the creases of the mattress) and to my delight found nothing. He said never to put your suitcase, purse or any other bag on the bed just in case.

Candy Goulette September 30, 2010 1:50 PM
Lincoln CA

Vanessa and Dot: Thanks for your comments!

Yes, there are numerous reports out there of bedbugs in hospitals throughout the U.S. Too many to list here, but try your hand at a news search in an Internet search engine and get the scoop.

This may also be worth an investigative article.

Joe Darrah September 24, 2010 7:19 PM

Ater spehding several nights in a hospital sleeping on a cot next to my husband who was recovering from surgery I have had several very itchy red bites mostly on neck and abdomen.

 my fear is that I have brought them home with me from the hospital.. Any incidents of hospital infestation reported?

dot, RN September 22, 2010 3:33 PM

Thanks for letting us know about the "bedbug registry"! I've been following some news about these outbreaks after my close friend reported a couple weeks ago that she'd found bedbugs in her mattress and now had numerous bites. I had no idea such a resurgence has been permeating the country. I'll be sure to check the before I book my next travels!

Vanessa Cid, New Grad - Registered Nurse September 15, 2010 4:58 PM
Los Angeles CA

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