Jeanine knows someone who is having a costly ordeal with getting rid of bed bugs. At this point, I think he’s spent over a thousand dollars and he’s not even sure they’re completely gone from his apartment.

I’ve heard a few horror stories, but my perception had the problem confined to modest apartment buildings in New York City. Apparently that’s not the case. In April, the EPA called the first-ever bed bug summit because the country is experiencing its biggest outbreak since World War II.

When infestation is detected, people often will do whatever it takes to eradicate them. This, of course, is a breeding ground for fraud.

The New York Times recently reported that it’s not unusual for people to spend up to $5,000 to get rid of the critters. The article focused on what the afflicted can do to avoid getting bed bugs in the first place as well as getting taken to the cleaners by dishonest exterminators.

Spending money on prevention seems like the smart thing to do. Experts agree that mattress and box spring encasements are the best protection. The good ones, like these from Protect-A-Bed start upwards of $100:

Bedding encasements are essential to bed bugs protection and management. Mattress encasements are especially useful in the prevention of bed bugs before an infestation even occurs. When you encase your mattress and box spring, you cut off the food source to the bed bugs in the mattress and box spring, which will eventually lead to their death. This does not eliminate the infestation, as bed bugs will breed anywhere in the house. However, it does make it much easier to spot bed bugs on the mattress when the look for a blood meal, which in turn makes eradication more painless.

Also, mattress and box spring encasements help prevent the spread of bed bugs to other areas of the home. Mattress and box spring encasements are easy, cost-efficient and extremely effective methods of controlling, preventing and eliminating bed bugs. However, the encasements must be scientifically proven to work. If not, they will be ineffective.

Also, the New York Times article warns that tossing out stuff is typically a needless expense and shouldn’t be the first response:

“Nothing kills bed bugs and their eggs better than high temperatures,” said Mr. Bloom, “so the dryer is your new best friend.”

Bedding, clothes, stuffed animals, backpacks and anything else you can fit into the clothes dryer can be decontaminated by 20 minutes on the high setting. Carry the items to the dryer in a cloth laundry bag that you can throw into the machine. If you use a plastic bag, discard it immediately; bed bugs or eggs might be lurking.

Have any Queercents readers been affected by bed bugs? How much did it cost to get rid of them? Also, with the rise in reported cases, is it worth the cost to buy a bedding encasement as a prevention method?

Photo credit: Flickr.