But burning your house down is a downright wise and sane approach compared to this North Carolina household's DIY extermination technique.
Bed bugs do not transmit disease or cause illness — but the insecticides used to kill them do. A total of 111 illnesses associated with bed bug-related insecticides were reported in seven states between 2003 and 2010 (mostly in the last three years), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday. Most cases of poisoning were not severe, but the data included one death.
That case involved a 65-year-old woman in North Carolina who died in 2010. After she complained to her husband about bed bugs, the CDC report said, he saturated the interior of their home, including the baseboards, walls and the area around the bed, with the insecticide Ortho Home Defense Max. He then applied a different product, Ortho Lawn and Garden Insect Killer, to their mattress and box spring. Neither insecticide is registered for use against bed bugs, the CDC said.
That day, the couple also released nine cans of Hot Shot Fogger in their home. Two days later, they reapplied the insecticides and unleashed nine more cans of Hot Shot Bedbug and Flea Fogger. The woman then applied the pesticide Hot Shot Bed Bug and Flea Killer directly to her arms and chest, and doused her hair with it before covering her head with a plastic cap.
Two days later, her husband found her unresponsive. She was taken to the hospital where she remained on a ventilator for nine days until she died. The woman had had a history of health problems, including kidney failure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and depression, the CDC report said. She had been taking at least 10 medications at the time of her death.