Bed bugs are household pests that bite humans and cause myriad medical, psychological, social, and economic problems. Infestation levels have resurged across the United States in recent decades, and cities and states are debating strategies to deal with them. Here, we introduce a mathematical model to study the spread of bed bugs and predict the costs and benefits of policies aimed at controlling them. In particular, we evaluate disclosure, a policy that requires landlords to notify potential tenants of recent infestations in a unit. While disclosure aims to protect individual tenants, our results suggest that these policies also reduce infestation prevalence market-wide. Disclosure results in some initial cost to landlords but leads to significant savings in the long term.
Read the article in PNAS.