WASHINGTON — A national summit designed to help root out the country's spike in bed bug infestations in Utah and elsewhere is slated for February, bringing together federal agencies, the public and health officials.

Even the Department of Defense is on board, and part of the Federal Bed Bug Workgroup was organized as a result of the first summit held in 2009.

This summit will focus on ways the federal government and others can work to manage and control the pests and review progress made by the housing and hotel industry as well as pest management specialists.

The increase in bed bug cases in Utah began in 2006, with a leading pest-control company, Orkin Pest Control Services, reporting a 94 percent increase in bed bug treatments from 2008 to 2009.

But Salt Lake City still ranked just 47 out 50 cities from January 2008 to July of 2010. Cincinnati ranked No. 1.

Although big enough to be easily detected, bed bugs hide in the cracks of floors, walls and furniture before finding their way to a mattress.

Body heat from slumbering people propels the bugs into action, leading to bites and rashes.

The Environmental Protection Agency has these tips to prevent bed bugs:

Remove clutter where bed bugs can hide.

Seal cracks and crevices.

Vacuum rugs and upholstered furniture thoroughly and frequently, as well as vacuuming under beds (take the vacuum bag outside immediately, and dispose in a sealed trash bag).

Wash and dry clothing and bed sheets at high temperatures.

Be alert, and monitor areas for bed bugs so they can be treated before a major infestation occurs.

Before using any pesticide product, read the label first and follow the directions.

Check the product label to make sure it is identified for use on bed bugs. If bed bugs are not listed on the label, the pesticide has not been tested for bed bugs and it may not be effective.

The summit will be Feb. 1, 2.

e-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com