Until the mid-20th century, bed bugs were very common. According to a report by the UK Ministry of Health, in 1933, all the houses in many areas had some degree of bed bug infestation. The increase in bed bug populations in the early 20th century has been attributed to the advent of electric heating, which allowed bed bugs to thrive year-round instead of only in warm weather.
Bed bugs were a serious problem at US military bases during World War II. Initially, the problem was solved by fumigation, using Zyklon Discoids that released hydrogen cyanide gas, a rather dangerous procedure. Later, DDT was used to good effect, though bedbugs have since become largely resistant to it.
The decline of bed bug populations in the 20th century is often credited to potent pesticides that had not previously been widely available. Other contributing factors that are less frequently mentioned in news reports are increased public awareness and slum clearance programs that combined pesticide use with steam disinfection, relocation of slum dwellers to new housing, and in some cases also follow-up inspections[how?] for several months after relocated tenants moved into their new housing.