Prevention is better than cure.
Keep things clean - yourself, bedding, clothes.
Shake out your pack contents - check for signs of b.b. pooh - little dots of stain -
Some like to spray, to each their own.
Given the problem - to protect yourself - an anti allergy lining bag prevents bugs getting through.
Long sleeved shirts help too.
Treat bites, Tea Tree oil seems to be quite effective/Antiseptic cream also.
I remember last year when I got all itchy and felt like I'd been bitten about a million times... Pretended I'd not been bitten and a few days later I wasn't itchy anymore! Oooooooh the power of the mind!
I walked with a Canadian woman for a few days last fall and she was bitten by bedbugs. She took everything she had (I mean everything. She stood by the washer/dryer with a blanket from the albergue wrapped around her.) and washed it and then sprayed her backpack with something they had at the albergue for bedbugs. After that she was fine.
How can one be sure it's bed bugs? I get bitten a lot abroad by mosquitoes and fleas. Fleas just love me. Fortunately they often jump off again when you are on the move - although last year in France I got bitten by a flea/fleas for a week - we moved on and the flea disappeared but I got eaten by mosquitoes during the second week.
But I guess the same precautions and remedies are valid for all.
I can recognise flea bites - they tend to bite you in warm spots like under your watch strap and round your waist band and they usually leave two or three bites along a line of a few centimetres. I suppose if I get bitten in a different pattern and it doesn't seem to be mosquitoes then I'll know it's 'la punaise des lits'/chinces.
Yuk, that's really cheered me up! What with my companions swollen knees, my aching shoulders,being unsure about finding accommodation and not being able to get my pack weight down below 8Kg (without the water!). . . after months of excited preparation, I am now feeling really really nervous . . . we are off on Wednesday!
I have posted this somewhere else (under sleeping bags, or something similarly misleading), but this week I found a product in a pharmacy - as yet untested, that claims to treat clothing and other fabric for up to 2 weeks - killing biting insects on contact.
It is Bugproof Clothing Treatment from Nomad Medical 3-4 Wellington Terrace, Turnpike Lane, London N8 0PX. No telephone or website listed on the pack, alas. I bought it in an independent pharmacy in Weymouth, but presumably the company would be able to give you a supplier near you. It cost £5 for 100mL (actually, I get a discount in pharmacies, courtesy of being a community nurse, so it may be slightly more), which is enough to treat a shirt, pair of trousers and socks. I aim to treat my (home made) silk sleeping bag. It contains permethrim, for those that worry about these things (it is also used to treat head lice, scabies and crab lice...).
I am all for the power of the mind, and the advantages of positive thinking, but also like to lay my head down at night without the lurking suspicion that the less endearing arthropods of the class Insecta are after my blood.
BTW friends, just read an article to the effect that AGACS reported that there may be an epidemic of bed bugs on the Gailican tract of the Camino Frances, this summer. Please do not be alarmed, become obsessed, or change Caminos and plans over this. Just be aware.
Best, xn 8)
Amenaza por una plaga de chinches
Según advierte la Asociación de Amigos do Camiño, una plaga de chinches podría invadir este verano el tramo gallego del Camino Francés. En los últimos dos años estos insectos hemípteros han provocado el cierre y fumigación de varios refugios ..
A moral dilemma: I am treating all my bedding with the 'knock 'em dead' fabric treatment described above. But the only way to really find out if it works is for me to undertake a controlled experiment...with my two companions as the control. Should I tell them about it, so they can treat their stuff, or sneakily conceal it from them and wait for their howls of anguish?
I never stopped walking and after about 4 days the red dots started to fade away.
I did more than my share of belly scratching as this thing itches quite a bit... like a few dozens mosquito bites that last forever. I felt really embarassed when taking my shower in the refuges as people do not quite know what the problem is and some might even think it is contagious !
What about using a thin insulated survival cover under the sleeping-bag? It is large and long enough (1.40x2.20m) and very light, 55gr. Furthermore, it could be useful in extreme weather conditions (cold or hot) The only problem is the noise when lying on, fellow pelgrims without earplugs won't appreciate it!
I learnt enough survival Spanish to cover the basics, and one of my phrases was "Do you have bedbugs?" My daughter translated it for me . She laughed so much, saying "It is hard even to be rude in a few words in Spanish, let alone to try to ask something like this is in a way that doesn't offend!". I had my elaborate sentence, though, in case I felt I needed it, used it a couple of times, learnt a bit of Spanish from the replies! Fortunately, in the winter there are no bities of any kind.
During 2006, an infection of bed bugs spread along the Camino Francés. By the end of the season, all refugios were aware of the problem, and many had been fumigated, but it is not certain that the problem will be solved in 2007. Don't be deterred from going on this account, but be aware of the possibility that the infection will recur. Here's what to look out for, and what to do if you should pick up a fellow-traveller or two.
With reasonable precautions, namely shaking out your sleeping bag outside at regular intervals you should be able to prevent the worst problems. And perhaps most important: check your sleeping bag, clothes, and rucksack before leaving Spain, to avoid bringing any bed bugs back with you.
If you are susceptible to bites it might be wise to carry anti-histamine pills with you.