The following information is provided by the Institute of Clinical Pathology and Medical Research,
Department of Medical Entomology at Westmead Hospital in Sydney.
Because of the gestation period, it can be difficult to determine the source of a problem, particularly in
holiday accommodation. The most common source of infestation appears to be in luggage, particularly
if luggage has been stored with other potentially contaminated luggage in a plane or bus.
Research has been carried out by Dr Stephen Doggett and information is available at
Bed bugs were once a common public health pest worldwide, which declined in incidence through the
mid 20th century. Recently however, bed bugs have undergone a dramatic resurgence and worldwide
there are reports of increasing numbers of infestations.
Australia has also been included in this trend and the Department of Medical Entomology, ICPMR, has
been at the forefront of documenting this phenomena and providing information on the ecology and
control of this important public health pest.
Bed bugs are wingless insects, roughly oval in shape, 4-5mm long when fully grown, and are
fastrunners. They are rust brown in colour and change to a deeper red brown following a blood meal.
Bed bugs are dorsoventrally flattened and being thin means that they can hide in narrow cracks and
crevices, making detection often very difficult.
Being a cryptic species, bed bugs shelter in a variety of dark locations, mostly close to where people
sleep. These include under mattresses, floorboards, paintings and carpets, behind skirting, in various
cracks and crevices of walls, within bed frames and other furniture, and behind loose wallpaper. Bed
bugs tend to stay in close contact with each other and heavy infestations are accompanied by a
distinctive sweet sickly smell. Blood spotting on mattresses and nearby furnishings is often a tell tale
sign of an infestation.
Bed bugs are one of the great travellers of the world and are readily transported via luggage, clothing,
bedding and furniture. As such, they have a worldwide distribution.
An informative Fact Sheet is available at http://medent.usyd.edu.au/bedbug/
And then select “Bed Bug Fact Sheet”.
A DRAFT Code of Practice for handling infestations is available at