The Top 3 Parasites You Should Know About When Sleeping Out

It seems the more you know, the more you don’t want to know. The saying “ ignorance is bliss “ might be true, but when it comes to parasites, what you don’t know WILL hurt you.

Bed Bugs

These disgusting little creatures feed on your blood. Usually nocturnal, they will attack you during the night by inserting a tiny cutting mandible through your skin into a small blood vessel. You probably won’t feel the actual bite, but depending on location, and your body’s reaction, you most probably will feel the after affects which include itching and swelling. Some people are allergic to the bite and can have more severe reactions. Bedbugs are thought not to infect their hosts with diseases from other hosts but studies are ongoing.

Bedbugs have become epidemic in many cities and are causing major physiological and financial distress for their victims, infestations are very difficult and expensive to eradicate. The main vector of transmission for bedbugs in North America is either transportation from one place to another, from hotel to home or second-hand mattresses, or migration between dwellings, apartment to apartment through the walls or plumbing.

The hotels industry has been hit particularly hard with bedbugs. Not only are hotel guests being bitten, but are also bringing these parasites home in clothing and luggage. Many products exist to protect travelers such as sprays and travelsheets.

Travelers are advised to check their rooms and beds very carefully and not to place luggage on the bed or floor, instead a hard surface or luggage rack is recommended.

Scabies

Over a million cases of scabies are diagnosed in the USA each year, with over 300 million worldwide. Sarcoptes scabiec var. hominis is the species of itch mite that can infest a human. The adult female mite will burrow into the upper layer of skin and deposit eggs. The resulting infestation can become very itchy and present with a ” scabies rash ” Symptoms may not appear until 2-6 weeks after initial exposure but more quickly if the person has been infested before. An infested person can transmit scabies even if they show no symptoms.

According to the CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ), “Scabies usually is passed by direct, prolonged skin-to-skin contact with an infested person. However, a person with crusted (Norwegian) scabies can spread the infestation by brief skin-to-skin contact or by exposure to bedding, clothing, or even furniture that he/she has used.”

Via, AAA traveler’s companion, reports a woman, E. Sturges, contracted scabies from the bedding in a “well-known” motel chain. She was reimbursed for her room, but not for her medical bills. Just google ” scabies from hotel ” and literally hundreds of hits emerge. While human to human contact is the most prevalent mode of transmission, bedding seems to be overlooked and underdiagnosed.

How can you protect yourself and your family from acquiring scabies? Scabies are tiny, females range from 0.25mm – 0.45mm in size and males can be half that size, so they are almost impossible to see. Their eggs are even smaller. Because you can’t really inspect a bed for scabies, your best line of defense is still inspection and barrier protection.” Inspection” as in inspect the bedding to make sure the linens are fresh and have been changed. If you are leery about your bedding and don’t believe the sheets are clean, either ask for a new room or find another hotel.

A barrier travel sheet with a small pore size is your best protection, even after inspection. Companies manufacture and sell cotton travel sheets for the express purpose of creating a physical barrier to scabies, while providing a comfortable, breathable envelope to sleep in. Remember, if you purchase a travel sheet, it must be washable in hot water and dry-able in hot air, otherwise you won’t be able to properly sanitize the travel sheet between using.

Lice

Most parents of school-age children are familiar with lice. If your child hasn’t had them then you know someone whose child has.

Head lice feed on dead skin and will about 2 days without a warm host to live on. Most commonly, head lice are transmitted by head to head contact but sharing pillows, hats, headphones and combs, are very good ways to pick up lice. For travelers, the headrests on planes, trains and buses ca transmit lice very well.

The biggest misconception about lice is that they like dirty hair, when actually it’s the opposite, they don’t like oily surfaces, which is why olive oil has been used to rid hair of lice. Most lice treatments are of the chemical type and can be toxic to young children.

Lice do not generally carry diseases but occasionally can cause typhus, relapsing and trench fever. Pediculus humanus capitis is the most common type of lice to infest humans and lice infestations run in the hundreds of million worldwide.travel sheets can help to protect against all of these parasites as well as just plain unclean hotel bedding. Travel sheets can also be used for children’s sleepovers and house guests.

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