Bed bugs can spread through books

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The next time you pick up a book from the library, you might want to scan the pages for more than just words. The American Library Association developed advice for public libraries to prevent and treat bed bugs found in books.

It may be winter, but pest experts say the cold weather doesn't matter. Bed bugs are a year-round problem and tend to find creative hiding places, including novels.

"Bed bugs are definitely attracted to inanimate objects that have narrow spaces that they can hide in," said Michael Draney, a biologist with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

"Typically bed bugs are found in the spine of the book. They can be found in between the pages. Bed bugs are very flat unless they're fed, so they can squeeze just about anywhere," said Josh Erdman, owner of Erdye’s Pest Control.

Bed bugs can be transferred from one place to another unknowingly.

"They're small insects and they hide in very small spaces, and so you wouldn't necessarily know that you were carrying them around so it is certainly possible you could move bed bugs from one place to another," said Draney.

"Bed bugs spread because when they reproduce it's a very kind of violent act and the females run, and when they run they go to your clothes or to a book next to the bed, that kind of thing," Erdman said.

Erdman says to minimize the spread of bed bugs, flip through book pages loosely and check book spines before and after borrowing a book.

"Check for skin sheds. As they grow older, they're like snakes, they pop out of their skin and they leave that behind. Probably the biggest sign is fecal staining. If you would take an ink pen and dot the book or the page or the spine you would see that and that's exactly what it looks like,” says Erdman.

Erdman says if you happen to find a bed bug in a library book, put the book inside of a sealable plastic bag, seal it and notify the library when returning the book. Draney says even though there is a chance of finding bed bugs in library books, the possibility is small.

"There's a lot of ways in which people get bed bugs that's a lot more likely, in particular going to hotels, that's where that's where most people seem to pick up populations of bed bugs," said Draney.

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