Aussie travellers face ‘traumatising’ new pandemic, and we have La Niña to thank

Aussie travellers face 'traumatising' new pandemic, and we have La Niña to thank

How the holiday from hell could happen to you, too.

It was the holiday they needed. After Melbourne’s gruelling lockdown measures had them housebound for the better part of two years, friends Justine and Anna were pumped for sun, surf and everything a summer trip to Gold Coast entails. Well, not everything.

After checking into their hotel, besties Justine and Anna were “left traumatised” after they began to“feel things crawling on them” once they got into bed.

The women alerted hotel staff who moved them into another room, but it too was infested with bedbugs. Holiday, over.

According to Solace Sleep’s bed expert, Darren Nelson, there’s been a 5000 per cent increase in bed bug infestations, with numbers expected to rise even further in coming months, thanks to La Niña and an increase in Aussie’s travellers hopping from hotel-to-hotel and rental-to-rental.

Essentially, the travel bug equates to the dreaded bed bug. And the pesky critters aren’t exclusive to the bedroom.“It’s not just the soft furnishings, they can live in the brick walls,” says Mr Nelson.

How to combat the critters

“The best way to combat bed bugs is to keep your sheets and bedding clean, with bed bugs twice as likely to be found in dirty sheets and clothes compared to clean,” he explains. “Most people wash their sheets every week or two – but forget about their pillow and doona, going months if not years, between washes.

“These are a breeding ground not only for bed bugs, but for dust mites.” Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, Mr Nelson tells us the itch-inducing bugs actually feed off us.

“Bed bugs and dust mites feed off the dead skin cells you shed while you sleep. “You could fill a garbage bag with the dead skin cells you shed in a year,” he explains. Time to invest in a body brush, too.

With December, January and February proving to be the biggest months for the bugs and mites, we must get washing. Mr Nelson says, “With 60 per cent of the dust mite population in your home actually living in your bed, particularly in the crevices of pillows and doonas, these need to be washed every six months.”

Incredibly, “There could be tens of thousands of dust mites in a single pillow. “Pillows and doonas can go through your washing machine on a gentle cycle, they can be soaked in detergent and blasted in the dryer on hot. “The hot temperatures kill off dust mites, but bed bugs are a lot harder to get rid of,” MrNelson says.

According to a recent Australian study, the average person changes their sheets every 24 days – definitely not enough to maintain optimum hygiene.

Signs you might be living with bed bug infestation

A sudden onset of allergies? An insatiable itch? A runny nose? “Symptoms of a dust mite allergy include sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose, and nasal congestion. For asthmatics, they can cause you to wheeze more, especially at night when you are lying in a bed infested with dust mites,” Mr Nelson explains.

Top tips for avoiding bed bug and mite infestations this summer

– Most people can get away with washing their sheets every 1-2 weeks if getting into bed clean. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, you might want to consider more frequent washing.

– Wash sheets separate to clothes and towel, spot cleaning and marks before washing. Use hot water and a hot dryer if there are mites.

– Duvets, comforters and throw blankets that have less contact with your skin can be washed every month or two.

– As their eggs are difficult to see, and have a long incubation period it can be tricky ridding your home of a bed bug infestation. A combination of non-chemical and chemical treatments may be needed.

– Pillows and doonas should be cleaned every six months and replaced every two years.

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