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Bed Bugs on the Camino de Santiago

Discussion in 'Albergues - Hostels' started by Leslie, Nov 28, 2009.

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Would Bed Bugs stop you walking the Camino?

Poll closed Nov 28, 2010.
  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
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  2. No

    11 vote(s)
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  1. Leslie

    Leslie Administrator

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    This article was part of a email that I asked if I could put on the forum here. It is a very balanced article on bed bugs and how we can all help.



    I am in Santiago right now, having just completed the Camino Frances from Pamplona. I stayed in a combination of albergues and hostels, pensiones, hotels. There has been, over this past month, constant talk among pilgrims about bedbug encounters. People have been hospitalized with allergic reactions, need for steroids, etc. Some have called it quits and gone home. Every group of pilgrims I met has either been bitten or knows someone who has been bitten. For the victims, and I am included among their numbers, the situation can be demoralizing.



    Bedbugs ARE a part of being a pilgrim on the camino. No matter what one does, what preventatives one uses, etc. etc., bedbugs are here and encountering bedbugs is completely random---doesn?t matter what type of accommodation.

    Yes, the albergues seem to have more than their fair share, but more people are staying in albergues and in closer quarters.

    They are difficult to eradicate. There are definitely more bedbug encounters this year than I heard about when I walked in 2007.

    Travelers need to be aware of the habits of bedbugs and what they need to do when they have been in contact.



    All too many times, I heard pilgrims say things like---I was on the trail and felt something tickle me, scratched it off and it was a bedbug.

    Folks, bedbugs are hitchhikers. They travel in backpacks, clothing, shoes, sleeping bags, etc. They like to hide in mattresses, between wooden floorboards, in wooden headboards. Hotels and albergues do not know to fumigate a room until someone has dropped off a few bedbugs, then the next traveler who sleeps there complains of having been bitten.



    If you encounter bedbugs you need to seal everything into a plastic bag then quickly find a place where you can wash all your stuff in a washing machine at high heat and dry it in a dryer at high heat. The heat from the dryer will kill them. Don?t take your boots into the sleeping areas. Before going to bed, check the sheets and mattress---you are looking for tiny black specs and especially blood spots---meaning bedbugs have feasted on the previous occupant.



    Please do not hesitate to report bedbug sightings or suspicious looking bite marks to hospitaleros, hotel, hostel, pension personnel, etc. If you don?t tell them, they cannot do anything about it. They only know to fumigate if they have been advised of a problem. I have been told that regular fumigation schedules do not help. The little critters are quite resilient and there is a concern they may develop resistance to the insecticide.

    It is easy to pass the problem off to the Spanish health department, but we pilgrims need to educate ourselves and do our share to help the situation.



    It was suggested earlier to me, on this forum, to bring a sheet soaked in Permethrin to place on the albergue bunk as a barrier. I emailed the folks with Sawyer?s and they also thought this would help. They also suggested soaking the pack or at least spraying it. More weight for the backpack, but hey, an ounce of prevention...

    The most important thing---if you encounter bedbugs---make sure you immediately remove your things and wash and dry everything---do everything you can do to not bring along any stowaways after a bedbug encounter. I know this sounds completely inconvenient, but you would be surprised at how many pilgrims have recounted stories of hospitaleros lending them clothing, washing all their things, etc. We pilgrims don?t want bedbugs and nobody else does either.

    This has become a significant problem, so be aware and take precautions.

    Buen camino,
     
  2. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    I always use a bug treated sleeping bag liner which has ensured that I have survived four trips down the Camino Frances without any problems from the little critters!

    I use a silk version because it is lighter than cotton and has better thermal properties. My first liner was a "mummy" shape and was too restrictive for my legs to get a decent nights sleep so the following year I bought an oblong one which was fine.

    The best bug repellent is Permethrin but some bug treated bags use other products, and some supposedly bug treated bags do not actually mention what product was used. STICK TO PERMETHRIN !! IT WORKS.

    Avoid the blankets and pillows supplied by the hostel! Some look so dirty they could walk on their own.

    I use my liner everywhere on the Camino, including hotels!

    When you get back home, put everything through a very hot wash to make sure you have not brought any "unwanted guests" back with you. You will not be popular if you do.
     
  3. JanineSimone

    JanineSimone New Member

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    Hello,

    I didnt realise this was such a problem!! where could I buy the sleeping bag from (internet) thanks *
     
  4. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    EX? Silk Travel Sleeper - Mummy (Brown)

    The link will take you to the product and from there you can google for the product type where ever you live.

    You will find the liners in most serious camping shops!
     
  5. JanineSimone

    JanineSimone New Member

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    THankyou so I would need that and a sleeping bag too?
     
  6. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    Not in June - September but outside the peak summer months you need a light weight sleeping bag, and if you are one that likes walking in the snow, then you need a winter weight bag.
     
  7. JanineSimone

    JanineSimone New Member

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    THankyou, Im finding this help really erm...helpful!!! Ive always tried camping in the past and failed this is going to be such a challenged but i feel with the right advice and right products Ill be ok!!! Much Appreciated *
     
  8. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    It is the little things (literally!!) which can spoil your Camino.

    Sun, rain, indifferent food and a pack on your back for 5-6 weeks is the life of a pilgrim, but getting noshed at night by unwanted guests can prove uncomfortable.

    My son got so badly bitten one night by bed bugs near Burgos, he had to go to the local hospital for an anti-histamine injection to stop the swelling and itching. Walking was very difficult because they bit all over his feet and ankles, but missed the rest of him.

    Some people are more reactive to bites than others. Some will have just a red dot on their skin, and others will swell up and weep fluid and itch like crazy.:(

    Having heard of my son's problems, I have always used a treated liner and have never been bitten to my knowledge. My silk liner is good for at least 10 washes (so they say) and I wash it in water (no detergent) every weekend that seems to work OK.

    The silk liners cost more, but keep you warmer than the cotton ones and are lighter.
     
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