CANTON, Ohio - The Stark County Health Department has responded to recent rankings that show three Ohio cities are in the top 10 in the nation when it comes to bed bug infestation.
Stark County health officials have now formed the Stark County Bed Bug Coalition, combining the resources of the Canton, Massillon and Alliance city health departments. The coalition also includes a number of public service organizations and exterminating companies, like Terminix.
Terminix issued a report that has Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton ranked in the top 10 for bed bug problems. Cleveland was ranked 15th in June.
Courtney Myers with the Stark County Health Department said she believes pooling resources will allow the coalition to better educate residents and communicate in the search for ways to slow the spread.
Myers explained why she believes Ohio is especially vulnerable to bed bug infestation.
"We do have a number of large cities here in Ohio that are close together," Myers said. "We all drive from Canton. We drive to Columbus for the weekend. We drive to Cleveland, so we're going to pass along the bed bugs."
Meyers warned consumers to be especially careful when buying used furniture since bed bugs can live in furniture for up to a year and a half without a feeding. Residents should also keep their eyes open when staying at hotels and visiting unfamiliar homes.
"If you go to somebody's house, bring your purse or backpack and put it on the floor, they can hitch a ride," Myers said. "When you bring your belongings back to your house, now you're bringing the problem into your own home."
Health officials say bed bugs do not transmit disease, but the epidemic is still growing throughout the nation.