Bedbug infestations in the news: a picture of an emerging public health problem in the United Sstates

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Bedbug (Cimex lectularis) infestations have become a major complaint in all but three states in the United States. Increasing infestations have also been reported in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Canada. Newspaper articles often herald the onset of a new health issue for the public, and they can be used for epidemiological tracking of increasing populations of irritating and potentially serious vectoring pests. This news coverage model is useful in validating the typical spread of a new contagious entity, or in predicting the waves of public reaction to the spread of a new pest or health problem. The authors’ analysis covers the years 2001 to 2006, showing the incidence of bedbug news coverage from the East Coast, the Midwest, the South, and the West in the United States. Rural and urban examples are included in a four-year time frame starting with news in the Northeast and ending with an attempt to eradicate the pest from the state of Hawaii.

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