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Bedbug reports cause jitters across S. Korea

Nov. 3, 2023 - 16:02 By Lee Jung-youn
Quarantine company officials disinfect a mattress in a dormitory at Keimyung University in Dalseo-gu, Daegu, to eradicate bedbugs, Oct. 19. (Yonhap)

Amid the steady stream of bedbug reports nationwide, central and local government agencies have begun implementing measures to prevent the spread of the pests in the country.

In mid-September, a student reported having been bitten by bedbugs in a dormitory at Keimyung University in Daegu. On Oct. 13, live bedbugs and larvae were found in a sauna in Seo-gu, Incheon. Bedbugs have also been reported in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul and Busan.

The Busan Metropolitan Government announced on Friday that it will post instructions for bedbug prevention on the city's website including relevant information to vulnerable facilities. Starting Monday, the Seoul Metropolitan Government also distributed guidelines for the prevention and management of bedbugs to related facilities. Bedbug complaints can be reported by calling 120 or via the Seoul Metropolitan Government website.

Seoul city plans to conduct special inspections of 3,175 sites, including accommodation facilities and public saunas, to check hygiene management such as the washing of bedding and how regularly disinfections are conducted. The inspections will continue until the end of the year.

The authorities believe that increased overseas travel following the waning of the pandemic and lifting of travel restrictions may have had a effect on the current outbreak of bedbugs in Korea. Since Wednesday, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency has been guiding pest prevention information for people arriving from countries confirmed to have current bedbug outbreaks, such as France and the United Kingdom, and companies importing cargo from those countries.

Bedbugs do not transmit infectious diseases, but they feed on human blood at night while people sleep, which can lead to secondary skin infections. The reddish-brown, wingless parasites usually hide during the day in places such as the seams of mattresses, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper or any other clutter around a bed. If you are bitten by bedbugs, wash the area with water and soap and consult a doctor.