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Bed Bugs & Your Health

Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease but are a pest of significant public health importance. They fit into a category of blood-sucking ectoparasites (external parasites) similar to head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis). Like head lice, bed bugs feed on the blood of humans but are not yet believed to transmit disease. What is significant is that other ectoparasites, such as body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis), are known to transmit several serious diseases. This being said, differences in the biology of the similar species of pests, such as body lice and head lice (or bed bugs) can greatly impact the ability of pests to transmit disease. The biggest issue with Bed bugs is there variety of negative physical health, mental health and economic consequences.   Most have mild to severe allergic reactions to the bites with effects ranging from no reaction to a small bite mark to, in very rare (less than .5%)cases, anaphylaxis (severe, whole-body reaction).  Some bite can also lead to secondary infections of the skin such as impetigo, ecthyma, and lymphanigitis.  Mental health of people living in infested home include greater anxiety, insomnia and other systemic reactions. Research on the public health effects of bed bugs has been very limited over the past several decades, largely due to the decline in bed bug populations in the latter half of this century.  Now that research is in full force (see Dr. Dini Miller Virgina Tech), and the media is all over what we like to call “Canadian insect paranoia”, we believe the potential for bed bugs to transmit diseases and their impact on public health is improving, and, more importantly there is always a professional to speak to a phone call away.

 

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