Up until the 20th century, insect pest infestations had always been associated with the poor and lower classes. The pest control industry was virtually non-existent before the 1950s, making uncontrolled populations of disease-causing insect pests, like flies and cockroaches, a constant and overwhelming presence within slums and other economically impoverished urban areas. However, the abrupt arrival of bed bugs made insect pest infestations a commonplace issue in all urban areas, as bed bugs do not discriminate. Unsurprisingly, the spoiled upper class members of society did not adapt well to this new reality. Feelings of embarrassment and shame accompanied bed bug infestations in well-maintained homes located in affluent districts, and affected residents who had always enjoyed the benefits of wealth and luxury were often scorned by their peers when their bed bug issues became known. Luckily, bed bugs were eradicated during the mid 1900s, and infestations remained rare for nearly half a century in America. However, when infestations became common again during the 1990s, many Americans demonstrated similar prejudicial behaviors toward those who had fallen victim to infestations.

Today, victims of bed bug bites are not stigmatized to a significant degree, as just about everyone has either sustained bed bug bites, or knows someone who has. This was not necessarily the common attitude toward bed bug bite victims a decade ago, as it was not uncommon during the 2000s for victims to experience economic hardship due to having bed bug bites. In one case, a practicing nurse was prohibited from attending to patients, as her boss assumed that the bed bug bites on her arms were symptoms of an infectious disease. Another case saw a professional athlete sent home before she could take part in a competitive event, as her bed bug bites were assumed to be contagious chicken pox. While these cases indicate that bed bugs were not as well understood among the public a decade ago as they are today, it is important to take precautions against bed bugs before using public seats, when staying in hotel rooms, and while riding buses and other types of public transportation.

Have you ever purchased used furniture that had been infested with bed bugs?