WKYC Staff, WKYC 7:27 a.m. EDT October 30, 2013
MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS -- They're creepy. They're crawly, and they're everywhere!
Bed bugs are such a big problem that Cuyahoga County created a task force to fight the tiny critters.
The task force is warning shoppers to take a close look at any secondhand items they've purchased at consignment shops.
If you've never seen one before,a full-grown bed bug gets no bigger than an apple seed.
Wanda Stewart is a bargain hunter. When she rummages through the racks, she's looking for a good deal without stains, rips or bed bugs.
"I also look up under the collar and look all through the furs, you know, because we don't want nothing lurking or hiding through the furs," said Stewart.
These disgusting creatures look a lot like a tick but act like a vampire. When they come out at night, they feed on human blood, leaving behind red bite marks.
"Bed bugs can happen to anyone. If you're living a breathing, that's a criteria that the bed bug needs to hone in on you," said Dr. Susan Jones, from Ohio State University.
The Cleveland Furniture Bank has yet to see a single bed bug on any of its donations, but the secondhand store isn't taking chances.
"We unload it here and inspect the mattresses again at the lower level to make sure there's nothing wrong with them," said Executive Director Tom Gaghan.
All mattresses and furniture are inspected, sprayed with a sanitizing solution, and marked with a red tag -- as required by Ohio law.
Clothing and Halloween costumes are inspected three times before they're put on the sales floor.
For customers like Wanda, that's a relief.
"It brings me a lot of comfort, a lot of comfort, and I will be back," said Stewart.
Keep in mind that not all secondhand stores inspect clothing for bed bugs. They are not required by law to do so.
If you bought an item and are concerned about it, put it in the dryer on medium to high heat for a half hour.
Jones says bed bugs don't have a mechanism to withstand high temperatures.