by Tom Isler | July 01, 2006

The one comforting fact about bedbugs is they don’t transmit diseases to humans. In fact, some people who are bitten have little or no reaction at all. Others, however, can develop itchy welts or sores.

Michael Potter, a professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, says bedbug victims can apply antiseptic or antibiotic ointments to bites to prevent infection, but further medical treatment is unnecessary.

The most important thing is not to let the pests travel home with you, Potter says. Those who have been exposed should launder all clothing immediately -- before returning home if possible. As for luggage, “if it’s the summertime, one approach would be to set the suitcase out in the hot sun for a couple of days, preferably after removing the inner lining. Heat’s a killer for bedbugs,” Potter says.

Bedbugs are such hearty hitchhikers, so adept at hiding, that even vacuuming a suitcase might not eliminate them. Those whose luggage is infested might do well to buy new bags.