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Student travelers should be aware of the increase in bed bug infestations worldwide.

While there are health and safety concerns in any location, students should be aware of the bed bug infestations plaguing anywhere from five-star resorts to roadside motels to public spaces. Bed bugs are hitchhikers and can move from an infested site by traveling on an individual or on bedding, luggage, boxes, clothing, etc.

Fortunately, bed bugs are not considered a medical or public health hazard and are not known to spread diseases, but they can create physical and financial problems for individuals affected. Bed bug bites affect each person differently. Symptoms of bed bug bites can include itching, swollen and irritated skin, insomnia, anxiety, or skin problems that arise from excessive scratching. Not only is the process of eradicating bed bugs inconvenient, but it can also be expensive.

To avoid the annoyances that come along with bed bugs, here are some tips to share with students to help them protect themselves while they are away from home:

  • Research the location where you will be staying to see if there has been any history with bed bugs
  • Know what bed bugs look like – they are small, flat, reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1mm to 7mm
  • Know the signs of bed bugs – small black droppings, blood stains, or shed skin on or around the bed
  • Inspect your seat for signs of bed bugs in a taxi, train, bus, plane, or rented vehicle
  • Never store your suitcase on the ground of a rented room – keep your belongings in the bathroom until you have cleared the room
  • Inspect the bed thoroughly – pull back linens, check the mattress, and look behind the headboard
  • Search within a 15-foot radius of the bed, as that is where bed bugs will normally hide
  • Bed bugs come out at night so try keeping the room dark and searching with a flashlight
  • If you find bed bugs, change housing arrangements immediately and isolate all affected belongings
  • The most important thing to do if you come into contact with bed bugs is to not panic. Ridding yourself of bed bugs is difficult, but not impossible. Turn to professionals if needed.

While there is only so much that can be done to avoid exposure to beg bugs, there are a variety of insurance options available for universities and students that can respond to medical or emergency situations while traveling. To learn more, click here.

- Nicole Pitney is Vice President of Scholastic Accident & Sickness and Special Risk, Chubb Accident & Health.

This article originally appeared as "Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite: Protecting Student Travelers" on the Risk Conversation blog on Nov. 22, 2016.

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