Cimex lectularius, or the “common bed bug,” is one of the most frequently managed insect pests within homes, apartments, office buildings, public buildings, public transportation, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and just about any other high traffic indoor location one can conjure. It has been a little more than two decades since bed bugs first began their nationwide resurgence following their half century long absence in the US, and although the bloodsucking pests are now well controlled, the global bed bug population continues to increase by 500 percent with each passing year.
It is now understood that living within bed bug infested conditions where bites cannot be avoided causes an unhealthy degree of stress that can trigger lasting mental health issues, most notably post traumatic stress disorder. In addition to the negative mental health consequences of falling victim to a bed bug infestation, many medical professionals believe that bed bugs have the potential to become vectors of human disease, like most bloodsucking insect pests.
The two disease pathogens that medical researchers believe could be transmitted at some point by bed bugs include Bartonella quintana and Trypanosoma cruzi, the latter of which is currently the parasite that kissing bugs spread to humans in the Americas. Although numerous studies have found that bed bugs carry more than 45 disease-causing microorganisms, it has yet to be proven that bed bugs are capable of transmitting disease to humans. However, years of medical research has also revealed that potentially deadly allergic reactions to bed bug bites are more common than previously thought.
One recent study documented two medical cases in which bed bug bite victims experienced swelling of the face, lethargy, profuse sweating, breathing difficulties and chest tightness. The two patients were diagnosed with a life threatening case of systemic urticaria to proteins in bed bug saliva. Systemic urticaria is a severe allergic reaction that can be fatal unless medical treatment is administered in a timely manner. Luckily, both patients recovered after steroid injections and antihistamine administration.
Have you ever experienced an allergic reaction to bed bug bites?