Experts predict bed bugs will spread in Japan

TOKYO, Nov 16 (News On Japan) - As international travel returns to pre-pandemic levels, the global proliferation of bed bugs is raising concerns in Japan, where experts are now warning of an unavoidable spread of these blood-sucking insects.

In South Korea, a "four-week epidemic prevention period" began on Nov 13, with hotels in Seoul popular among Japanese tourists reassuring guests by displaying city-certified stickers.

Bedbugs, not to be confused with lice, are a type of stink bug, about 5mm in length. They hide in places like gaps in beds and sofas during the day and become active at night, feeding on human blood. Bites can cause intense itching, making it difficult to sleep.

Bedbugs are now a global problem. In France, ahead of the Olympics, a massive outbreak was confirmed in homes and lodging facilities around September. Sightings in public transport also increased, causing widespread anxiety.

A pest control expert suggests, "During overseas travel, it's advisable to bring along extra plastic bags to store your garments as soon as you remove them. Rather than bringing these clothes straight home, first head to a laundromat and use the dryer to prevent infestations."

Bedbugs are known to be vulnerable to cold, but experts warn not to let your guard down even in winter.

Dr. Yuu Natsuaki of Hyogo Medical University Hospital warns, "With so many people entering from abroad or traveling domestically, I predict that if this situation continues, bedbugs will spread and become a serious issue throughout Japan. They remain active in warm environments, so in constantly air-conditioned comfortable settings, they can reproduce any time, regardless of winter or summer."

According to Dr. Natsuaki, bedbugs have specific hiding places. They feed on the blood of sleeping people at night, often lurking around beds, specifically in bed gaps and on hanging clothes. Also, beware of the underside of carpets and gaps in sofas.

However, checking the back of all furniture is challenging. One key sign to look out for is the black spot-like feces known as blood feces. If you find these behind books, it might indicate bedbugs. Also, check behind wall posters, and in pockets and folds of bags.

Ichiro Takahashi, Director of the Japan Tourism Agency stated, "If there are requests from relevant ministries, we will consider issuing warnings through the travel industry and related organizations."