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Stockholm hit by bed bug invasion

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Stockholm hit by bed bug invasion
12:34 CEST+02:00
The number of cases of reported bed bugs in Sweden have increased by over 800 percent in five years, according to new figures from Swedish pest control agency Anticimex.

”There has certainly been a dramatic rise in cases over the last few years,” Sven Jeppson of Anticimex told The Local.

In 2006 Anticimex were called out to deal with 317 cases of bed bugs. So far in 2011, the company has been called out 2,951 times, equating to a rise of 830 percent.

21-year-old student Robin Lycke had suffered from itching skin for a while before he realised his student digs were infected.

”First I thought it was some sort of allergy, and the doctor gave me some stuff to put on it, but then when I came back after my holidays I noticed little bugs in my bed,” Lycke told The Local.

The bugs were tiny, and resembled linseeds, but they were moving around. Lycke started searching on the internet to work out what it was he was dealing with. It dawned on him that the answer was bed bugs.

”That's when I panicked. I didn't know what to do, but I had no other choice than to live on as normal until it was sorted out,” said Lycke, adding that the landlord suspected the bugs came from the previous tenant.

In the end the situation got so bad that he actually saw the bugs during the day.

”They were crawling around everywhere in the flat, even in the bathroom,” he said.

Lycke was reimbursed the money he had spent on doctors appointments and a short stay in a local hostel by his landlord, but he had no other choice but to live in the flat, to act as bait for the bugs, otherwise they would hibernate and Anticimex would not be able to get rid of them.

It took the pest control agency two attempts during a period a total of ten weeks before the bugs were gone completely.

According to Anticimex, the rise in bed bug infestations is likely due to Swedes travelling more, but also that more tourists come to Sweden.

”When we travel we stay in hotels and in hostels and these bugs live there with us, in the floors, the beds and the walls, feeding on our blood,” Jeppson said.

He added that the increase is not just seen in Sweden but all over Europe and the US.

”There seem to be more hardy strains around. Many have grown more resistant after having been exposed to a small amount of pesticide. Sometimes it is easy to get rid of them and sometimes it is nearly impossible,” Jeppson said.

He added that it isn't always easy for the individual to know that they are dealing with bed bugs.

”Some people get great big blotches from the bites whereas others don't notice them at all but find blood on the sheets of the bed,” said Jeppson.

To try to avoid the pests, travellers should avoid keeping their luggage near their hotel beds and all clothes should be shaken and put straight in a hot wash upon return home.

If suspecting an infestation it is also important to contact a reputable pest control firm, Jeppson added.

"Whatever they do, people shouldn't go out and buy pesticide and try to deal with it themselves," Jeppson said to The Local.

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