From Dawn Gouge, University of Arizona

The Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal has published the results of a study that suggests that bed bugs may be linked to drug-resistant bacteria. The study involved subjects from an impoverished community in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is an initial study that has yet to be vetted.

Five bed bugs were collected from three hospital patients carrying bed bugs on their person.  The researchers found the bacteria Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) present in the bed bugs. It is not clear if the bacteria where being carried externally or internally within the bugs.

Today almost 500 news articles had been published many with very alarming headlines.  It is important to note the following:

  • Many pathogens have been isolated from bed bugs, but they have not been shown to vector pathogens.  More research is continuing in this area and if it does come to light that bed bugs do vector human disease causing pathogens, a statement will be released accordingly.
  • MRSA is common on surfaces and skin.
  • Scratching (bed bug bites, mosquito bites, general skin irritations) can and does introduce bacteria into wounds causing secondary skin infections.

Wash bite sites with soap and water, avoid scratching the area, apply antiseptic creams, and if the itching is too difficult to ignore, take an antihistamine.

More information of bed bugs can be found at:

Maricopa County Environmental Services: http://www.maricopa.gov/EnvSvc/QC/Enforcement/Bedbugs.aspx

EPA: http://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html