March 31, 2009

Bed bugs pesky but not dangerous

U.S. researchers say there is little evidence bed bugs are transporters of communicable disease.

The report, published in JAMA, said a review of more than 50 previously published articles indicates control and eradication of bed bugs is challenging. The bugs bites can be painful and irritating but they do not appear to transmit disease, the journal said Tuesday in a release.

Jerome Goddard of Mississippi State University and Dr. Richard deShazo of the University of Mississippi Medical Center said bed bug infestations have been increasing in the United States since 1980. The bug bites are difficult to treat and the bugs themselves are extremely difficult to eradicate.

"Pesticide control of bed bugs is complicated by insecticide resistance, lack of effective products and health concerns about spraying mattresses with pesticides, the report said.

The researchers said more work is needed to elucidate the pathogenesis of clinical reactions to bed bug bites so that optimal therapy may be identified.