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Archives of Dermatological Research

, Volume 308, Issue 8, pp 531–538

First Online: 13 June 2016Received: 29 January 2016Revised: 07 May 2016Accepted: 26 May 2016


The global population of bed bugs Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus, family Cimicidae has undergone a significant resurgence since the late 1990s. This is likely due to an increase in global travel, trade, and the number of insecticide-resistant bed bugs. The global bed bug population is estimated to be increasing by 100–500 % annually. The worldwide spread of bed bugs is concerning, because they are a significant socioeconomic burden and a major concern to public health. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs are -a pest of significant health importance.- Additionally, 68 % of U.S. pest professionals reported that bed bugs are the most challenging pest to treat. Upwards of 45 disease pathogens have been reported in bed bugs. Recent studies report that bed bugs may be competent vectors for pathogens, such as Bartonella quintana and Trypanosoma cruzi. However, public health reports have thus far failed to produce evidence that major infectious disease outbreaks have been associated with bed bugs. Since many disease pathogens have previously been reported in bed bugs and the worldwide bed bug population is now drastically increasing, it stands to reason to wonder if bed bugs might transmit human pathogens. This review includes a literature search on recently published clinical and laboratory studies 1990–2016 investigating bed bugs as potential vectors of infectious disease, and reports the significant findings and limitations of the reviewed studies. To date, no published study has demonstrated a causal relationship between bed bugs and infectious disease transmission in humans. Also, we present and propose to expand on previous hypotheses as to why bed bugs do not transmit human pathogens. Bed bugs may contain -neutralizing factors- that attenuate pathogen virulence and, thereby, decrease the ability of bed bugs to transmit infectious disease.

KeywordsBed bugs Public health Pathogens Infectious disease  Download fulltext PDF

Autor: Olivia Lai - Derek Ho - Sharon Glick - Jared Jagdeo


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