PUBLISHED: 20:58 EST, 28 November 2012 | UPDATED: 20:58 EST, 28 November 2012
No one likes bed bugs. But in recent years as the infestation rate explodes people are increasingly poisoning themselves in an attempt to get rid of the unwelcome house guests.
Over a 4 year period, 129 people suffered mild to serious health issues when outdoor pesticides were used inside, according to a health advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
Symptoms of pesticide poisoning can include headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dizziness and muscle tremors.
The effects are so toxic one woman even died.
The unidentified 65-year-old North Carolina woman had a history of heart and kidney problems and became ill after using the pesticides.
She and her husband went through nine cans of insecticide fogger, a separate kind of canned pesticide for their house’s walls and baseboards, and yet another type for the mattresses and box springs.
They reapplied everything to the mattresses and box springs just two days later, then went through another nine cans of yet another fogger.
Before she fell ill, the woman even put a flea and bedbug pesticide on her arms, sores on her chest, and her hair.
Two days after her second pesticide application she was found unresponsive by her husband.
She lingered in the hospital for nine days before passing away.
‘Many people are somewhat desperate to find any solution,’ Bernadette Burden, a CDC spokeswoman, told NBC News. ‘This is something they’re not used to. Oftentimes, they’re tempted to use any insecticide that they can get their hands on.’
Bedbug victims with less tragic ends include Melissa Constantinou, 25, a personal chef in Lowell, Mass..
Her apartment was treated for infestation four times with Constantinou ever once worrying about the possible health effects.
‘Oh my gosh, it’s so emotionally disturbing,’ she said. ‘I was willing to do whatever it took. I didn’t think about the long-term effects at all.’
According to the National Pesticide Information Center, inquiries about bedbugs nearly doubled between 2007 and 2011, leading health agencies to view the issue as ‘an emerging national concern.’
Especially as bedbug infestations have been on the rise.
First-time service calls for bed bug treatment went from about 100 requests a month in January 2008 to roughly 300 per month by April 2012 according to a survey conducted by Jeff White, technical director of the website BedBug Central.
‘Outdoor pesticides should not be used indoors under any circumstances,’ ATSDR officials warn.
The problems come from people using too much pesticide or applying it incorrectly.
‘A lot of them don’t understand that the label is the law,’ said David Stone director of the NPIC. ‘This product should not be applied directly to the skin. That product should not be used on mattresses.’
In one example recorded by the CDC, an Ohio family – including four children and a roommate – became ill after an uncertified pesticide company used malathion to treat their apartment.
That pesticide is not registered for indoor use, but the crew used it so much they saturated the beds and floor coverings.
CDC experts said people should be careful to read the labels before using a pesticide indoors.
‘More importantly, follow the guidance and make sure you’re using the right pesticide and that you’re treating the right pest,’ said the CDC’s Burden, who noted that bedbugs often can resemble other critters at different stages in their life cycle.