American Pest Discusses: Could Bed Bugs Transmit Diseases?



This week, the Center for Disease Control released the results of a study conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, which suggested that bed bugs can transmit the bacterial forms Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterococcus faecium (VRE).

The study focused on three patients from an underprivileged area in Vancouver that checked into the local hospital for unspecified reasons. Bed bugs were discovered on the patients and the researchers collected five insects for the study. Two of the specimens were found to be carrying VRE while three carried MRSA. The study’s authors suggest that bed bugs may be promoting the spread of these diseases throughout human populations in urban areas, where bed bug infestations are common.

The national media has picked up on this story, with over 450 news articles having been written about it in the past two days.

Bed bugs have reemerged to become a significant pest in the past decade after facing virtual eradication in the 1940’s and ‘50s and they are considered the most difficult pest to control by 76% of pest management professionals.

Since bed bugs have only recently reentered the picture, current research on the pests is still far behind the information available on other common pests like termites, ants and cockroaches. Securing funding for the research during a time of government cuts is also difficult, but the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has lobbied heavily for research funding, most recently at the EPA’s Bed Bug Summit, the Congressional Bed Bug Forum and directly with Members of Congress. As the body of bed bug research grows, pest management professionals will be better fitted for combating bed bug infestations and serving their customers.

As far as interpreting the results of the study goes, NPMA has stated that while several pathogens have been associated with bed bugs, they have still never been implicated in vectoring any disease to humans. It is hoped that additional research will help determine definitively whether these pests can truly spread disease or not.

Dr. Kathy Heinsohn, staff entomologist for American Pest, agrees with NPMA’s position.

“This was a very small study and a lot more research needs to be done for these findings to have any statistical significance at all,” said Dr. Heinsohn. “While caution is certainly warranted when dealing with a disease pathogen such as MRSA, a bacterium commonly associated with hospitals, healthcare workers and locker rooms, at this point there is no need to be concerned.”

American Pest understands that bed bugs are a pertinent issue for everyone and we are committed to providing the most accurate information for our customers. We have been solving pest problems in the District of Columbia since 1925 and continue today providing effective and eco-friendly pest control solutions for DC, Maryland and Virginia. For more information about bed bugs or other pests, contact us by phone at 1-877-282-1886, or by filling out our contact form.


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