By Stephanie Stahl

By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is infested with bed bugs according to a new report.  3 On Your Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on what section of the city is hardest hit.

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They’re tiny and hide well, but bed bugs bite and make people downright itchy.  Now a new report shows they’re on the march, steadily increasing in Philadelphia.

“The bugs are really all over the city.  They’re in North Philly and West Philly and South Philly and Center City,” said Mike Levy, who led the bed bug research at Penn Medicine.  He and a team of epidemiologists reviewed hundreds of complaints to the city’s health department and found an almost 70 percent increase each year between 2008 and 2012.

“No one likes to talk about it so everyone kind of thinks that they’re the only place dealing with it, but it’s very widespread,” said Levy.

The researchers mapped the bed bug complaints.  Even though they’re across the city South Philadelphia was most affected by the tiny pests that are hard to get rid of.  Researchers found infestations peaking in August and reaching a low in February.

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“Preventing bed bugs is hard.  Certainly don’t take any furniture from the street, or mattresses,” said Levy.

There were complaints about bed bugs in homes, apartments and institutions like nursing homes.

“We don’t see them transmitting disease now, but the number of bed bugs has increased so much and so quickly that it really does pose a threat,” said Levy.

Penn researchers are investigating what diseases could potentially be spread by bed bugs.  They’re continuing the study now going throughout South Philadelphia to measure how the bugs are getting around, their prevalence and to ultimately find the safest, cheapest and most effective ways to control them.

Bed Bug Information-

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Stephanie Stahl