Hematophagous (the scientific term for blood-sucking) insects and arachnids are responsible for some of the most well-known diseases present in our world. These include mosquitoes, various types of flies, ticks, or mites. Malaria is a disease caused by a blood borne parasite that has ravaged the continent of Africa for decades, and the reason that the parasite is able to spread to so many people is because of the habits of the common mosquito. Females need blood as nourishment in order to complete their life cycle and lay eggs, but in the process of biting a human, they act as a vector for disease. Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus, and Encephalitis are also caused by mosquitoes, and Lyme Disease is caused by ticks.
For centuries, we’ve lumped in the common bed bug, another type of hematophagous insect, as a potential vector for these and other dangerous diseases. Curiously, a few systematic reviews of scientific literature, some published as recently as 2013 , concluded that bed bugs in fact do not transmit any dangerous diseases. As many as 27 diseases have been found within bed bugs, but the parasites, bacteria, protozoa, or parasitic worms that cause diseases do not reproduce or survive in the gut of the bed bug, which means that a bed bug cannot transmit that disease.
According to the reviews, their bites simply cause irritation, itching, and a potential rash, much like a bite from a mosquito or a fly. What’s more annoying about a bed bug bite is that their bite produces a local anesthetic, which dulls the pain of a bite for several hours. This is nice in the sense that you won’t wake from the pain of a bite, but you also won’t know that you’ve been bit until hours later and won’t have a chance to smack the offending bug.
Recently, a 2014 collaborative study between medical researchers at Johns Hopkins University, The University of Pennsylvania, and Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru concluded that bed bugs could be a vector for the potentially deadly Chagas disease. While Chagas disease is the first and only disease that has been experimentally demonstrated to be transmitted by bed bugs, the good news about Chagas disease is that the range of the disease has been restricted to Latin America, with a few rare cases popping up in Texas. In other words, bed bugs don’t cause Chagas disease, they merely act as a vector for it. If you don’t live in a region of the world where Chagas disease is endemic, bed bugs serve no danger to you beyond the annoyance of an infestation.
While bed bugs may not transmit any harmful diseases in Canada, that does not lessen the impact of an infestation. Bed bug bites are painful and irritating, and infestations should be dealt with swiftly. If you suspect that there are bed bugs present in your home, contact a professional pest management service like Bed Bugs & Beyond. We offer a variety of pest control methods, even chemical-free ones. Contact us today at 647-928-6655 to receive more information on their services and get a free estimate.