Canadian study suggests bedbugs transmit disease

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On 11 May the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA published the results of a peer-reviewed study that suggests bedbugs may be involved in disease transmission.

The study, conducted in an impoverished community in Vancouver, Canada, tested a small sample (five) of bedbugs collected from three patients who were hospitalised for unstated causes. One of the study”s authors suggested that even though this was a small study, it suggests that bedbugs may be playing a role in the transmission of MRSA in inner city populations where bedbug infestations are a problem.

Hypothesizing the bugs were vectors for “the transmission of antimicrobial drug-resistant pathogens” researchers performed tests which found the bacteria Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) present in the collected pests. Marc Romney, one of the study”s authors, noted “even though this is a small study, it suggests that bedbugs may be playing a role in the transmission of MRSA in inner city populations where bed bug infestations are a problem.”

Since the release of the report, the study has been widely picked up by the press in the USA – click here for an example.

Bedbug A spreader of MRSA?  

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has reviewed the report and found that it leaves many questions unanswered. NPMA says they do not plan to fuel this conversation and public fear by promoting news coverage of the survey. Comments from NPMA will cite the study as one of the many examples of why additional, scientific research on bed bugs must be conducted. NPMA is encouraging its members to refrain from comments suggesting that bedbugs may contribute to the spread of MRSA or other diseases.

NPMA has prepared the following statement for use by members 
Since the resurgence of bed bugs in the 1990s, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has been advocating for funding for research on bedbugs, including most recently at the EPA”s Bed Bug Summit, the Congressional Bed Bug Forum and through direct visits with Members of Congress. With the dramatic resurgence of this pest and the lack of basic biological data available consistent with today”s scientific standards and practices, it is imperative we better understand more about the biology and habits of the pest. According to a study conducted by NPMA, one in five Americans has now come into contact with bed bugs directly or indirectly through friends or family members. Scientific research on the pest will better equip pest management professionals to control bed bugs efficiently and effectively. 

Talking points

  • Many pathogens have been found to be associated with bedbugs, however, no evidence has been uncovered (including the results found in this particular study) indicating that bedbugs can transmit disease to humans. This is why additional research continues to be a great priority.
  • Only in recent years has research ramped up on this pest and there is still much work to be done regarding scientific research on the biology of bed bugs. 
  • More than 95% of pest professionals reported treating bedbugs last year; up from fewer than 25% of professionals in 2000. 
  • 76% of pest professionals believe bedbugs are the most challenging pest to control.



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