Bed bugs are known to harbor 28 pathogens, including hepatitis B and HIV; but because they are not known to transmit any of the diseases they carry to humans, they are classified as a nuisance pest. However, because bed bugs creep into our beds at night while we are asleep and feed on our blood, exposure to bed bug infestations can cause victims to experience extreme anxiety. Some bed bug victims even exhibit a severe emotional disorder similar to Post Traumatic Shock Syndrome in which they feel like bugs are constantly crawling on their skin.
As bed bug infestations have increased in number and spread throughout the country, bed bug experts have become concerned about the growing incidence of serious secondary infections that can occur when bed bug victims continuously scratch the insect’s extremely, itchy bites. National bed bug experts at the University of Kentucky have warned that secondary infection from bed bug bites could reach epidemic proportions within the next few years.
Now new research published in the June 2011 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases indicates that bed bugs may not be merely a nuisance pest, but could become a direct public health threat capable of transmitting disease to humans. Canadian research conducted at the University of Toronto and St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver discovered some bed bugs that tested positive for Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), two virulent, antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While researchers said that early study results did not provide conclusive proof that bed bugs can function as vectors for human disease, the results did indicate a strong enough possibility to warrant additional research.
Medical experts say there is no need to panic; but they do recommend that bed bug victims see their doctor if they develop a skin infection. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that bed bug infestations be treated immediately by pest control professionals.