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Video: Bedbugs are biting back

updated 11/28/2005 9:59:01 AM ET 2005-11-28T14:59:01

You've probably said it to your children a thousand times: Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite. Well, these nasty little critters aren't listening. NBC News correspondent Dawn Fratangelo goes under covers for this report.

As night falls in New York, people are praying to save their skin because these suckers are out for blood.

Bedbugs are back across America and have found dramatic new life in New York City, especially in apartment complexes.

People who travel extensively or simply visit an infested house can bring them home, says Dr. Philip Tierno, director of microbiology and immunology at the New York University Medical Center. “Before the average person discovers that they have bedbugs, they're infested significantly, at least to the tune of several hundred bedbugs,” says Tierno.

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They’re nocturnal and can hide in clothes, mattresses, even walls during the day — then they feed on sleeping humans at night.

Bedbugs aren't just for the down and dirty parts of town anymore.  There's an infestation on swanky Park Avenue in New York City also.  Turns out, bedbugs don't mind living anywhere.

It's a booming business for exterminators.

“We've done hundreds of celebrities this year, from the richest people in New York to the poorest people, they all get it.  It’s not a socioeconomic insect at all,” says Jeff Eisenberg of Pest Away Exterminating.

Bedbugs are not known to carry or spread disease. But getting rid of them is tough. Every piece of bedding, furniture and clothing must be cleaned or treated. 

With at least 1,000 cases reported in New York this year, they may be impossible to avoid.

“A 1,000 may become 10,000, 10,000 may become 100,000 in relatively short order,” says Dr. Tierno

So much for sleeping tight.

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