On 24 September I headed off to Chicago for the second Bed-Bug University North American Summit - see full programme here. This second of such events, promised to be bigger and better than last year’s inaugural meeting. Promising to deliver the latest in the world of bed bug research, theories and products it set out to exceed last time’s experience. In some ways it managed to do this, but in others it failed in a truly spectacular way.
Although the US has seen a slow-down in the publicity surrounding bed bugs to the extent that they are no longer this season’s ‘must have’ retail accessory for all the trendy Manhattan and Broadway stores, they are still making a comeback in most States, even if they are not on the nightly news. Despite moving to a much larger venue with the hope of increased attendance over 2010’s sell out event, there appeared to be significantly fewer attendees this year with the main sessions appearing to be operating at about 15% of the venue’s capacity.
The social & psychological impact
Some content was new and innovative - most notably the international perspective covering the state of bed bugs in Canada, Australia and Europe. Also of note, was the psychological impact of bed bugs session by Dr Caleb Adler MD from the University of Cincinnati where he was joined on the platform by Robert Dold, US Congressman and Dr Michael Potter from the University of Kentucky. Also presenting new material was the research update from Richard Naylor of Sheffield University.
Some of the presentations, however, were little more than revamps of the information from last year, leaving attendees wondering if any research has actually been conducted in the last 12 months, or had the academics been enjoying celebrity status too much? One presenter even seemed to have been so busy as to not feel the need to update their presentation with the rather vital disclosure that they were in fact the co-author of the patent for the product which, surprisingly, excelled over all others tested. They even managed to report that one active monitoring product was less effective than a simple glue board. When pressed to disclose this vested interest in the product, which was the subject of their research, they failed to see the issue. Sadly this opinion was not shared neither the majority of the audience, nor the company whose product had just been slammed as not effective.
Not just bugs of the night
Sadly some of the leading academics are still labouring under the false impression that bed bugs are nocturnal, choosing not to acknowledged their occasional appearances in office, retail premises and public transport networks. They still favour the belief that if they feed while we sleep they must be vampiric creatures of the night.