How to Ensure Your Child Has a Pest-Free School Year

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(NewsUSA) - While you're thinking of class schedules and school shopping, you should also spend some time reviewing bed bug prevention tips, as these pests can find their way into the classroom often unbeknownst to their human hosts.

Bed bugs in the U.S. continue to be a problem across the country, invading nearly every facet of people's lives. According to a 2011 study by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), one in five Americans has come into contact with bed bugs. These pests, which resemble thin apple seeds, feed on human blood and are incredibly difficult to eliminate. While they are not known to transmit disease, their bites can cause rashes and welts on those affected.

The NPMA offers these tips for families looking to avoid bed bugs this school year:

For Students in grade PS-12

NPMA's survey found that more than 36 percent of professionals treated schools and day care centers for bed bugs last year, up from 10 percent the year prior. Fortunately, when bed bugs are found in schools, they tend to be few, and full-blown infestations are rare. Nevertheless, it is wise to take preventative precautions.

* Regularly inspect your children's belongings.

* If bed bugs are prevalent in your area, consider housing all items coming from school in a sealed plastic bin.

* Wash and dry cloth items returning from school in hot temperatures.

* Ask school administrators whether they have bed bug detection and elimination plans.

* Teach children, if old enough, to be on the lookout for signs of bed bugs and to share information about friends who report them at home.

For College Students

NPMA's survey also found that 54 percent of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in college dorms, up from 35 percent the previous year. As these pests don't make good study partners, there are several things students and parents can do to protect against them.

* Inspect suitcases prior to packing for a return to school, especially if they have been used for travel during vacation.

* Before putting sheets on the bed, inspect the mattress and seams for telltale stains or spots.

* Inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard.

* If you are considering bringing "secondhand" furniture to campus, take caution and inspect it for evidence of bed bugs.

* Thoroughly check all belongings when students return home for weekends and breaks.

To learn more about bed bugs and for more prevention tips, visit