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Feds: Don't let the bed bugs bite

From NBC's Suzanne Kianpour
Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.

Orkin experts confirm bed bugs can be found in hotels, resorts, cruise ships, dorms and homes.

That's a phrase that parents and grandparents have been saying to young ones for years. But the words, unfortunately, are no longer just a bedtime formality.

As a bed-bug resurgence reaches national epidemic status, representatives from several government agencies -- including the Environmental Protection Agency's Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe --convened today at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center in Washington, D.C. to kick off the second annual, two-day Bed Bug Summit.

Perciasepe delivered the opening remarks, re-telling his own personal encounter with bed-bug infestation at his daughter's apartment in New York City five years ago -- the beginning of the resurgence of the these blood-sucking insects. He said they "did not have a good approach" for dealing with this issue, and touched on the subsequent health, psychological and social tensions that emerged. His daughter at one point told him she thought she had lepresy. He acknowledged not only how it affected his daughter and family emotionally, but also how big of a problem it is "for our wallets."

Acknowledging the hefty price of thorough bed bug removal (it can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars) an application process is being opened up in the next few months for communities wishing to receive grants of up to $550,000 to alleviate the problem, especially in public housing and schools.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development hopes to solve the bed-bug problem by conducting outreach and promoting awareness. Steve Owens, assistant administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, says there are 300 products listed on their website, EPA.gov, that can be used on a bed-bug infestation. But Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, says "only a handful" of those products can be used to actually exterminate bed bugs.

The summit will conclude tomorrow, after a two-hour session of formulating recommendations for a national strategy. These recommendations will serve as groundwork for the first steps in developing a national strategy for bed-bug control.

By the way, in case you were wondering, according to BedbugRegistry.com, there are no bedbug encounters on record at the hotel where the summit was held.