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Health officials address bed bug concerns in Bozeman

Published On: May 09 2013 04:42:15 PM MDT   Updated On: May 09 2013 06:36:02 PM MDT

Photo courtesy: uncanr.edu

BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Gallatin City-County health officials tell us they've seen an increase in cases in the past few years, mostly due to greater awareness.

Bed bugs don't carry diseases, but bites can be irritating and some folks are more sensitive than others.

If you spot a rash you think might be bed bugs, get a doctor to check it out first. People often mistake rashes or bites from other pests as bed bug bites. However, if you do have bites, you'll need a professional to get rid of the bugs.

Bed bugs aren't indigenous to Montana. They come in on travelers from warmer, more humid climates.

Here in Bozeman, officials say we're a population of travelers and bed bugs aren't just pests you find in low-grade motels. They can show up in five-star hotels and private residences.

Gallatin City-County Health Department Program Manager Sean Hill tells us ways folks can protect themselves when they travel.

"If you rent a hotel room, peel back the covers on your bed, if there's marks, if there are stains, if there are other things that make you question the cleanliness or the sanitation of the room, obviously ask the front desk to either change your room or find a different place to stay," says Hill.

He says he takes precautions once he returns home.

"I, for one, take all of my stuff, all of my luggage in my garage. I'll put them in plastic bags, I'll wash and launder immediately. I won't let them sit in my house. I basically just take it all off in the garage and make sure everything's clean and dried properly before it comes back into my house," says Hill.

Bed bugs aren't just on beds, you can also find them on couches. Oftentimes, it's so tough to fumigate these items that they have to be thrown away.

For more information on bed bugs, you can visit the Gallatin City-County Health Department's website.