But infestations are rising and tough to get rid of, experts say
TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Although bed bugs might prevent you from sleeping soundly, the good news is that their bites don't appear to transmit illness, a new report finds.
Previously, some research had suggested that because bed bugs feed on blood, they might transmit certain illnesses. But, in the April 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reviewed all of the studies done on the pesky critters to date and found no evidence of disease transmission.
They did find that some people have reactions to the bites, but these reactions are usually short-lived.
"While there is a nuisance effect from bed bug bites, the public health significance is minimal," said study author Jerome Goddard, an associate professor of entomology at Mississippi State University in Jackson. "It's not good. Nobody wants to have blood sucked out of them, but in the scheme of things, they're not carrying malaria or anything like that."
Goddard and his colleague, Dr. Richard deShazo from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, reviewed 53 studies on bed bugs published over the past 50 years.
Interestingly, they found that only about half of the people who are bitten show signs of a bite. And, for those who do react, the reaction can vary from a slight red spot that's intensely itchy like a mosquito bite to anaphylactic shock (a life-threatening allergic reaction), according to Goddard. But, he noted, anaphylactic shock is very rare.
The not-so-good news from this study was that infestations of bed bugs are on the rise all over the world, and these insects are becoming more resistant to pesticides.
For example, in San Francisco, reports of bed bug infestations doubled between 2004 and 2006, according to the study. In Toronto, during a six month period, reports of bed bugs jumped 100
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