(CHICAGO) -- The first annual North American Bedbug Summit begins in a Chicago suburb Tuesday. Hundreds of bug experts, vendors, exterminators, and scientists will gather at the sold out event in an attempt to combat the growing scourge of bedbugs. Joining them will be some of the hardest-hit — including college and university dormitories, military housing, shelters and group homes. The National Pest Management Association estimates that the numbers of bedbug complaints have soared 500 percent over the past five years. Over two days, the conference will include seminars on effective devices, techniques and fumigation to combat these complaints. Currently, federal agencies don't track bedbug complaints because the insects aren't known to transmit disease and are not considered a public health risk. The insects, however, are difficult to get rid of, inflict irritating bites and come with the social stigma of an infestation. Although scientists are working on more effective chemicals and extermination techniques, there is no "silver bullet." Jeffrey White, an entomologist specializing in bedbugs said, "The bottom line is that bedbugs are here to stay. It's not a pretty picture, but that's the bottom line."
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