One more reason not to travel: super-bedbugs

As a nurse, I'm concerned about a far more serious malady that's just turned from bad to the holy-cow-that's-super-bad kind of worse.

Many of our ZDNet readers travel regularly. A big part of the reason mobile technology is so important to us is that it allows us to stay connected as we move about.

IT people are regularly concerned about malware and viruses you might catch while operating on open WiFi networks. But as a nurse, I'm concerned about a far more serious malady that's just turned from bad to the holy-cow-that's-super-bad kind of worse.

I'm talking about super-bedbugs, infected with something called MRSA. MRSA (pronounced mer-sah) stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and it's a nasty, nasty bacterium.

If you've ever seen Aliens, imagine that nasty guy, multiplied millions of times over, spreading inside the body. Okay, it's not exactly a perfect metaphor, but it is that scary.

Let me try again. If you've ever played Halo you know of the Flood. Imagine them, taking over in tiny form, spreading from a single point outward throughout the body, almost impossible to kill. Again, that's not exactly accurate from a medical perspective, but it conveys the run-screaming-down-the-hall feel.

MRSA is nasty. It's very difficult to kill. Essentially, it resists treatment by the antibiotics we've always found effective. Once a person is infected with MRSA, it's very difficult to remove it from the body, and may necessitate amputation or cause death in extreme cases.

In the hospital, if a patient is infected with MRSA, we have to suit up in special "contact precautions" gear to even get close. This makes patient care more challenging, but it helps ensure that the staph-infection-on-steroids won't be spread to others. However, the precautions are hard on the patient, who already feels isolated and frightened.

So, now, let's get back to travelers and bedbugs.

Bedbugs have become a very big problem in many cities, both in homes and hotels. Hotels and motels are particular problems, because they have so many people traipsing on through, possibly moving the bugs around in their luggage.

Bedbugs suck. Bedbugs with MRSA are terrifying. Scientists have now discovered bedbugs carrying MRSA 'superbug' germ.

According to the CBS New York article, this is still a small sampling, but the prospects are just horrifying.

So, if you wanted another excuse to sell your boss on telepresence technology, consider this a gift from me, to you. Personally, I don't think I'm going to leave the house for the next decade.

If you do have to travel, avoid putting your suitcase on the bed. While in the hotel, consider just bagging the whole suitcase in a dry cleaning bag, if available. When you get home, you might want to put the whole suitcase in a bag, and stick it in a chest freezer, if you have one. Take as many precautions against bedbugs as you can. They've always been an expensive hassle to deal with, and now they're getting quite dangerous.

Share your travel stories and recommendations in the TalkBacks below. Have you encountered bedbugs? What are you doing to stay safe?

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