CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The dramatic increase of bed bug cases in northeast Ohio has health officials on alert.
The Cuyahoga County Bed Bug Task Force is hosting a conference on November 5th. It will be open to the public.
Meanwhile there are things you can be looking for and things you can be doing now to cut you chances of having bed bugs.
The small reddish tick-like insects do not transmit disease, but health officials say having them can cause more than just physical problems.
"There's a huge psychological factor. If you get them there's a stigma attached," said Tom Barsa, Sanitarian at the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.
In the past ten days, schools in Canton, Bay Village and Parma have seen cases.
Thoreau Elementary School was shut down last Monday. Parents seem pleased with the school's response.
"They ensured that everything is okay, put book bags in bags and made sure everything was clean," says Brianne Tucker. Her daughter is in the 4th grade at Thoreau.
The Board of Health recommends a lot of washing and drying, especially on the hot cycle, of clothes and items taken to school or work.
"The heat is what we're looking for to kill these bed bugs. If we can reach 125 degrees all aspects including eggs will die in less than a minute," Barsa said.
He also encourages people to break out the vacuum.
"Do lots of vacuuming and at the end put a quarter cup of talcum powder and vacuum that up. That will ensure the vacuum is not infested," Barsa said.
Health officials say to look out for these top bed bug red flags:
- little black fecal spots in areas where bed bugs hide
- blood stains on sheets or pillow case
- strong musty odor that comes from bugs' scent glands
- bites that look like itchy red welts
If you do find a bed bug, the Board of Health says to call an exterminator right away for advice on how to handle the situation.
The 2015 Bed Bug Conference is slated for Thursday, November 5, 2015 at the Grace Christian & Missionary Alliance Church on Pearl Road in Middleburg Heights.
The cost is $15.00.
Registration is from 8 a.m.- 8:50 a.m.
The conference lasts until 4 p.m.
CLICK HERE for more information.