Bed Bugs as Disease Vectors

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As of late, there are several stories in the news, about bed bugs carrying diseases, and transmitting them to their victims. This isn’t hard to imagine, because other blood-feeding parasites, such as mosquitoes, are disease vectors, transmitting malaria, yellow fever, and even the deadly West Nile virus.

Well, thankfully with bed bugs, this is not the case. It seems one of the threats they do pose to humans, however,  is the actual infestations themselves, which technically are a disease. A disease can include any parasitic relationship, where an ectoparasite (bed bugs) feeds on a host (humans).

One of the symptoms of bed bugs disease (read:infestations) include the red, itchy bite marks, often left behind after a nighttime feeding frenzy. The bites, interestingly enough, closely resemble mosquito bites, and are about as itchy. However, only about half of all people bitten by bed bugs suffer reactions to the bites.

The itching and swelling attributed to the bites is actually your body’s reaction to the bed bugs saliva, which contains anti-coagulants and anesthetics, to ensure your blood keeps flowing, and you feel nothing while they feed.  Bed bug bite reactions vary among victims. Some experience the redness and itchiness almost immediately, some may not see bite reactions for 1 to 2 days after being bitten, and still others may show no signs of bed bug feeding at all. Most bite reactions subside a week to two weeks after appearing, and rarely, if ever leave long term evidence.

Other symptoms of bed bug infestations are psychological, and more lasting. These are the nightmares and insomnia many bed bug sufferers report. In fact, several of us here at the Bed Bug Bureau, after handling and feeding bed bugs, have sleepless nights worrying we’ve brought bed bugs home, either by nearly-invisible, hitchhiking nymphs or the extremely sticky, microscopic bed bug eggs.

Some severe infestations have caused people to have delusional parasitosis, or imagining bugs are crawling on your body, even though there is nothing physically on you. It can be very stressful condition, and disruptive to your everyday way of life. Imagine trying to be in a professional setting or having dinner at a nice restaurant, then it hits you, bed bugs are crawling all over your body, in your hair and ears, and even between your toes. To make matters worse, you’re the only one who can feel them, or even see them. Talk about horrifying! Thankfully, this  only happens in extreme cases, but it’s still scary to think about.

While bed bugs are not disease carriers in the traditional sense, they can still inflict just as much pain and annoyance as other blood-sucking insects, mosquitos. Unfortuantely, there is no bed bug repellant you can spray on you, to keep bed bugs from attacking you in the night. But fortunately, by being proactive you can minimize your exposure to bed bugs, and hopefully never have to deal with these parasites, and the symptoms caused by their bites.

Check out the Bed Bug Bureau™ for more tips and advice that can help you destroy, and even avoid bed bugs from attacking you!

-Agent P