News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Bed Bugs Found Carrying Disease

Bed Bugs Found Carrying Disease

For the first time it has been shown that bed bugs carry infectious diseases. A report to be published in a prestigious medical journal describes how doctors isolated so called ‘superbugs’ from bed bugs found on hospital patients. If this result and the transmission of disease via bed bug blood feeds is confirmed, it makes the worldwide resurgence of bed bugs an even more serious matter than previously thought.

Bed bugs have been increasing in numbers in New Zealand as well as all over the world. The increase in travel, the poor use of insecticides and a general ignorance of how to control them has been blamed. That they could also be vectors of disease is of concern.

Bed bugs have hit the headlines this year with infestations closing public buildings and famous stores in New York, bad experiences for tourists staying in infested hotels and motels, and most recently the possibility that overzealous use of inappropriate insecticide to control of bed bugs may be implicated in the tragic death of Kiwi Sarah Carter in Thailand.

Bed bugs have until now been regarded as a nuisance pest; causing itchy bites and revulsion, but there has been no evidence that they transmit disease despite their habit of taking blood feeds from humans and animals. The report by Canadian Doctors in the journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases does not demonstrate transmission of disease, it does, however, raise the possibility that bed bugs could transmit disease causing organisms from one person to another via blood and puncture wounds.

The patients in the study came from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside – an impoverished community with high rates of homelessness, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and injection drug use. While it has not yet been demonstrated that bed bugs transmit disease organisms during their blood feed, if the results of the study are confirmed it suggests that disease transmission may be possible and there will certainly be an increase in research looking for evidence of disease spread by bed bugs.

The news that there may be a risk of bed bugs transmitting disease must be of concern to us all. That bed bugs have been shown to carry the ‘superbugs’ methicillin-resistant Staphlococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resitant Enterococcus faecium (VRE) is of particular concern where these difficult to treat bacteria are common. While not found in this study it may be assumed that other disease organisms could also be carried by bed bugs.

The increase in bed bug numbers in New Zealand and around the world combined with evidence that they can carry disease should make us all more vigilant. It is possible to reduce the risks of encountering and carrying bed bugs from place to place. The New Zealand pest control product manufacturer Kiwicare provides advice on their website on how to identify bed bugs, how to prevent picking them up in luggage during travel and how to get rid of them.

David Brittain, Technical Support Manager at Kiwicare says, “We should take the news that bed bugs may carry disease seriously. But it seems likely that because there has never been any epidemiological evidence found linking bed bugs with disease outbreaks any transmission of disease is rare.”

It makes sense to try to prevent the spread of bed bugs and Kiwicare is in the forefront of helping to advise New Zealanders on their control and providing safe and effective products. The knowledge of what to look for and how to use bed bug control products will help us all in the battle against this re-emerging pest and the disease they may transmit.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


University Of Canterbury: Henry VIII’s Divorce Lawyer’s Magna Carta On Display

The University of Canterbury is publicly displaying New Zealand’s oldest copy of the Magna Carta for the first time, just as a new connection it has with Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn has been discovered. More>>

Arts Festival: An Evening With Richard Dawkins

In a special one-off, New Zealand event at the Michael Fowler Centre, Dawkins will reflect on his eminent career as a scientist, and expand on the themes of inspiration, influence and ideas in his recent memoir, Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Worldly And Unworldly

"Being Magdalene" by Fleur Beale The situations shown in this youth novel are shocking, scary, and very moving as we experience Magdalene’s struggle to be a perfect girl as defined by the cruel and unreasonable leader of “The Children of the Faith”, as she moves reluctantly into young womanhood. More>>

Whistle Stop: Netball NZ To Implement New INF Rules

Netball New Zealand (NNZ) will implement the new Official Rules of Netball, as set down by the International Netball Federation (INF), from January 1, 2016. Key changes include the elimination of whistle following a goal, amendments to injury time and changes to setting a penalty. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Waiata Aroha

Vaughan Rapatahana on Chappy by Patricia Grace: With this eminently readable novel Patricia Grace returns to the full-length fiction stage after a hiatus of ten years. More>>

'Ithaca' At Q Theatre: Introducing NZ's World Class Cirque Troupe

NZ’s very own cirque troupe is set to become a household name with the premier of its adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey having secured a key season in Auckland. More>>

Music Awards: The Tuis Are Broody This Year

Topping off a sensationally eventful year both at home and internationally, Nelson born brother-sister duo Broods has taken home four Tuis from this year’s 50th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>


Sport: Richie McCaw Retires From Rugby

Richie McCaw has today confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby. The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the second time. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news