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BED BUGS-How Not to Get Them!

Discussion in 'Medical Problems' started by John Hussey, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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    There is a simple way to protect oneself from getting bed bugs, and that is the use of a chemical called Permethrin. This is a liquid which was designed for use by the US military to be applied to battle dress uniforms and equipment so as to protect the soldier from biting insects. This chemical is ideal for use by pilgrims as protection against bed bugs on the Caminos for a number of reasons:

    First, for ease of application. Permethrin is not designed to be applied to clothing at the time of manufacture but rather afterward, either in the field by the user or prior to issue. This means the pilgrim can safely apply it to his or her clothing as well as-and likely much more importantly- to his or her own sleeping bag- so as to stop the insects from entering and attacking the user.

    Second, because of how long it will last. Permethrin, once applied by the user to the fabric of one's clothing and equipment, will actually last throughout numerous washings and wettings from rain showers, because it was designed to attach itself to the fabric it is applied upon and last beyond such washings and rain showers before subsequent applications are required. This means that only one's clothing may require a subsequent treatment (depending upon how many times it is washed) but that one's sleeping bag, which will not be washed, will not.

    The Product:
    http://www.caplock.com/Permethrin.htm

    Civilian Sources:
    http://www.labsafety.com/store/Safety_S ... ant/36704/
    http://www.amazon.com/Sawyer-Premium-Re ... B0009KMWES

    Permethrin FAQ's:
    http://www.sawyerproducts.com/faqpermethrin.htm


    Were I to do another Camino, I would use it because it works.

    Now, since the multiple use of the mattresses, pillows, and beds themselves seem to be the common link for the bed bugs' spreading to seek other hosts for their fresh blood, one might forgo the complete use of any of those conveniences and instead sleep upon a lightweight backpacking mat like a Thermarest that they would carry with them. Plus, the mat itself would be treated with the above chemical.

    It would be my suggestion that If the problem persists upon the Caminos, then this might be the only way that all of the albergues might rid themselves of those unwanted biting insects. Eliminate that common link-the beds- and have pilgrims sleep upon portable mattresses. I remember doing that very same thing in one (or two?...) albergues that did not have beds but rather had the pilgrims use the albergues' vinyl covered foam mattresses upon the floor. It would be interesting to learn if those places had the same bed bug problem.

    Not only would I hate to get those bugs upon me but more than that, I would really hate to bring them home with me.
     
  2. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    Great post John - do you know if deet works against them also. Before getting into bed at night I would alway spray my bed with the mosquito spray I had with me - which contained deet. So I think that either this works or I was lucky with all my beds.

    Thanks for all your help with the forum during my holidays of the last few weeks. I was off walking in the Canadian Rockies - it was great.
     
    El Condor 2014 likes this.
  3. miratur

    miratur New Member

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    Bed Bugs

    Hi Leslie

    I got in touch with the company that sells DEET products to see whether insect repellants with DEET are effective against bed bugs and this is the reply that I received:


    Deet is a very effective insect repellent however, we don not recommend this product for repelling bed bugs.

    Sincerely,

    Renee? Hargrove
    Technical Service Representative
    Vertellus Performance Materials Inc.
     
  4. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    Sleeping Bag Liners

    Another way of avoiding the little critters is to use a sleeping bag liner which has been treated with bug killer!

    In the UK you can buy cotton or silk sleeping bag liners which have been treated with some form of bug killer which covers all manner of creepy crawlies and which is supposed to be effective for up to 10/14 washes.

    http://www.outdoorgb.com/c/sleeping_bag_liners/?gclid=CLbwrpbE-ZcCFUoa3godghl2CQ

    http://www.interhike.com/cgi-bin/shop/product.pl?productCode=A8_23038352

    From June to September you do not really need a sleeping bag and a bag liner on its own will be fine. It can get quite warm in an albergue at night and sleeping bags are too warm to use.

    Not carrying a sleeping bag will save you weight, space and money!

    I did hear that treated bags are not on sale in the States because of health worries, but I have used mine for four trips down the Camino Frances, and am still alive!

    When you return home it is advisable to put all your kit through a very hot wash cycle to kill off any unwanted guests who have hitched a lift!!

    Bed bugs can be a problem and every season they have problems somewhere along the trail. The bugs travel from albergue to albergue in the sleeping bags, so if one albergue has a problem, it is a safe bet that the albergues further down the line will also have a problem.

    It is usually better to sleep on the top bunk if you are worried about uninvited guests dropping down on you!!

    Have fun:D
     
  5. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    Thanks miratur for taking the time to do that.

    And covey thanks for the great information between you and John you have made this thread very informative.
     
  6. murphydog201

    murphydog201 New Member

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    I'm hoping there are no bed bugs in winter. I've also decided not to bring a mosquito headnet and hope this does not turn out to be a mistake.
     
  7. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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    I walked in fall and saw no evidence of bedbugs in '05 & '07.

    You can leave the head net at home without fear. You should not encounter mosquitoes in Spain. In fact, I don't recall experiencing mosquitoes in any country in Europe except for the Lapland portion of upper Scandinavia, and, while huge, from my experience were quite docile. Besides, its only the female mosquitoes that bite anyway!
     
  8. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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    I have used DEET and it is made to be used mostly as a topical application upon the skin, and is short-lived since it is washed away by perspiration.

    Permethrin was made to be applied to one's clothing and gear, and is long lasting, even through multiple washings. Permethrin should be effective against bedbugs.

    Having said that, I honestly believe that the bedbug problem is just a small one along the Caminos. I know that many pilgrims do not even encounter them at all. The Spanish, when they do learn of an infestation in an albergue, take drastic steps to eradicate the bichos very quickly. If I were to go again this fall, I would take the same measures as I did before, which was doing nothing at all.

    Bedbugs were all but wiped out in the last century while we were busily spraying everything with harsh chemicals like DDT. But after we became more eco-friendly and banned those harsh chemical's use, the Bedbugs have slowly re-emerged again to plague us. In fact, they are not confined just to pilgrims along the Caminos but can be found occasionally in even the best hotels of the world now. I certainly would hate to carry any home with me though. And if I felt I were I would certainly take Covey's advice and wash everything immediately-multiple times-and pray that I had killed them all!
     
  9. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    The bed bug problem seems to come and go somewhat and I have never worked out if they are worse in the summer months and less in the Spring/Autumn seasons.

    My son got so badly bitten in Estella he was sent by the medics to hospital to get an anti-histamine injection and told to rest up for three days. The medics were not sure if they were flea or bedbug bites, but the end result was the same! He had dozens of bites on his feet and ankles on both legs and the bites had swollen up and he said it felt like his feet were on fire.

    A couple of times I have come across albergues which had been closed for three days whilst they were fumigated.

    If you use the treated sleeping bag liners or spray your mattress with bug killer, it seems to solve the problem.

    The real problem is that you have no idea if the bedbugs will be a problem in any year or in any particular albergue, so it seems prudent to spray your sleeping bag with the spray-on Permethrin just to be on the safe side.

    Better safe than sorry!!:(

    As for mosquitoes, I cannot recall ever having seen any but the odd one and they have never been such a problem that you need to take any precautions. Flies can be a nuisance in places, especially up on the Meseta between Burgos and Leon.
     
  10. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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    That albergue is huge, as I recall. Multiple bites and swollen extremities must have been a horrible experience for him. Did he continue on when he was better? What year did he go?

    What did he do to rid his bag and gear of the bugs before continuing on or going home? I imagine he would not have been too keen on facing the wrath of his mother were he to carry them home with him. How he rid his gear of them would be quite interesting for all of us, though.
     
  11. rekkapix

    rekkapix New Member

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    A thing I would like to add about the Permethrin post - it is highly toxic to cats and even more so to fish/aquatic life, therefore it should never be used/applied near a water source; just a thought, not a criticism, because it does do the job of killing bedbugs/lice etc. Non-toxic to humans and other mammals.
     
  12. murphydog201

    murphydog201 New Member

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    I?m halfway through the Camino now. We?re staying at a refugio in Carrion de los Condes. I just wanted to say I?ve had no encounters with bed bugs whatsoever. Maybe the situation is different in the summer.
     
  13. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    An interesting web site, but NO information about what their products are made of!! Permetherin is a known product and there are reports on the efficacy of the product, but I would be wary of any company which says their products are wonderful, but omits to tell you what the ingredients are!!
     
  14. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    If the national authorities allow the sale of Permetherin, then the better camping shops will sell treated sleeping bag liners and may sell a 5% solution spray so you can treat your kit yourself.

    Permetherin is not normally a pharmacy shop item, or if it is where you are, will probably be sold in very small quantities for quite a high price.

    Here in the UK you can buy a 5% Permetherin solution in a 500ml spray pump bottle for €8 from the more serious camping shops.

    I tried Google to see if it is sold in Spain but could not find an answer. There are other products which are an equivalent to Permetherin so ask in a Madrid camping shop.
     
  15. Iassak

    Iassak New Member

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    thanks convey for your reply have decide since Amazon will not ship to canada maybe it will ship it to the address where I will be staying in France for two weeks..all they can say is no.
     
  16. eila

    eila New Member

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    Hi all-

    Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the toxic nature of permethrin? I'm considering buying some to spray on my sleeping bag but the idea of sleeping in a chemical every night makes me nervous. Does anyone know if there are any health risks that accompany the use of permethin? Thanks,

    eila
     
  17. Gazza

    Gazza Member

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    Eila

    I treated all our gear in Permethrin & then allowed it to dry on the line. Once dry u can hardly tell there is any odour at all..... & we had no bed bugs, although some around us did. So either good luck or good management.... it worked.

    We have two Burman cats & when the clothes/liner/bags were drying on the line & dripping away, the cats just stayed away... guess it has the same effect on the Bed Bugs.

    Gazza
     
  18. eila

    eila New Member

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    Thank you so much Gazza, I bought some today.

    eila.
     
  19. tmpcoleman

    tmpcoleman New Member

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    I heard a report on BBC4 yesterday about a bedbug infestation in New York city!! Houses, Apartments, Hotels are affected. It's spreading, it's serious and it's extremely difficult to eradicate. Bedbugs are everywhere! So don't let them put you off going on the Camino. Especially if you are from New York!
     
  20. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    And if you are coming from NY, don't bring them with you!!!!
     
  21. Nanonano

    Nanonano New Member

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    I found the spray online with purpleturtle.co.uk. They ship in Europe. I found it a bit difficult to locate the spray and find a company that ships it to me. Almost bought it from a vet in Holland and had him ship it to Ireland. The big shops in Ireland don't do the spray and some companies in England only ship within the country.
     
  22. lorraine

    lorraine New Member

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    What is the product that you are referring to? How strong permethrins are we describing here as needed?
     
  23. Nanonano

    Nanonano New Member

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    Skitostop. It contains 0.5% permethrin. It's from Nikwax
     
  24. debtalbot

    debtalbot New Member

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    I was thinking about wearing silk long underwear to sleep in with the pyrethroid sprayed on them as well. I have the silk liner to sleep on. I will spray it also but I'm going in May/June so I don't know if I'll be warm enough in the silk liner anyway. So extra protection from both bugs and cold is what I'm thinkin!
     
  25. Aya

    Aya New Member

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    Hi all,

    Will the bed bugs avoid your bare arms and face also when you sleep in a sleeping bag that is treated with Permethrin? Is there anything you can use for protecting the bare parts of your skin during the night?
     
  26. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    This is where Coveys Fitted Sheet Solution comes in.

    Buy , beg borrow or steal a single fitted sheet and a pillow. Some form of poly cotton material is fine and get one as light in weight as possible.

    Buy a product called Permethrin which is the best anti bug repellent available. Make up a 1% solution, soak the sheet and pillow case in a large plastic bag for 24 hours and hang out to dry.

    As soon as you arrive in the hostel or hotel room (yep, hotels have bed bugs as well) put the sheet on the bed. When your arms or face are outside the sleeping bag, the fitted sheet covers the whole mattress and the sides and gives you total protection.
     
  27. Derek

    Derek New Member

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    Hi there, can all these repellents be bought in St.Jean and along the route in chemists.I`d rather buy them on the camino rather than bring them all the way over with me,besides they are probably cheaper in France and Spain.Hope someone will reply.
    Derek
     
  28. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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  29. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    Derek…………………
    It is best to buy the products at home and treat yoursleeping bag/pack/liner fitted sheet before you leave for your Camino ratherthan try and do it en-route. A couple ofyears ago I met a lady from Canada who had made a tasty feast for some Frenchbed bugs in St Jean.
    There are pharmacies everywhere along the CF and rarely doyou find a village without a pharmacy.
    However, they do not usually stock Permetherin/Deet becauseit is normally sold in veterinary outlets rather than pharmacies. The ready diluted stuff like SkitoStop youcan buy in the UK in most good camping shops. The pharmacies sell Ibruprofen (48 x 600mg for €2!!) and everything forblisters, but if you use Vaseline, bring your own as the pharmacies in Spaincharge a fortune for the stuff. Thepharmacies sell anti-histamine spray for the after effects of bites, but rarelyhave anything to prevent you being bitten in the first place.
    If you use lip balm to stop your lips cracking, BRING ITFROM HOME. I have seen Spanishpharmacies charging €12 for a very small stick of lip stuff!!
     
  30. John Hussey

    John Hussey Super Moderator

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    Covey:
    How did you get your Permethrin treated sheet by the hospitaleros in those albergues which issued those very flimsy "sheets" and "pillow cases" which were about all off the beds and pillows by morning and did little to protect anything? I decided they were nothing but yet another of the "feel good" ideas which, in fact, did little, if any, good. Those that I was issued were fitted but were so flimsy they were almost always off the bed by morning. I thought about your real sheet while I lay there with some of my body in direct contact with the mattress..

    When I went November, December 2011, I had treated just my sleeping bag, silk liner and backpack with the Permethrin and used the sealed bag-soak method as described on the container for those items. I did not get the bed bug bites. I knew others in our loose group that did. But, I began to suspect that taking the fitted sheet might just be worth the weight of carrying it. Back then I could only find twin bed size sheets made for those hugely deep mattresses, and none for the thinner mattresses found in the albergues. The sheet was heavy, for my taste, as i recall. Since, though, I have located an older sheet sold back when all mattresses were of the more reasonable thinner size, with normal depth fitted part and I'm considering treating it and taking it on the Camino del Norte this June and July. I wonder if I could slip it by the hospitaleros? I leave in a month, for my first spring Camino!

    I almost had a heart attack from the shock of the price when I bought a small packet of aspirin at a Spanish pharmacy. I'll be bringing an adequate supply from home this time for my morning aches, pains and stiff joints.

    Permethrin is an amazing and, so far as is known, a very safe method of keeping insects at bay. I was amazed to read that it was not allowed for shipment in Canada, yet both Canadian and US BDUs are treated with the stuff.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
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