Are Bed Bugs Dangerous to Arizona Homeowners?

Danger comes in many forms. For some people, the fact that bed bugs feed on people while they sleep is enough danger to make them want these bugs exterminated immediately. For others, the danger bed bugs present comes more in the form of mental distress. It is extremely difficult to get rid of bed bugs, and the prolonged torment of having these pests can lead to trauma. But, for most that ask this question, what they want to know most is, “Do bed bugs transmit diseases?” Until recently, our answer was, “Not that we know of.” But researchers at Penn Medicine have recently made a disturbing connection between bed bugs and Chagas disease. Here’s what you need to know.
It turns out that bed bugs might be as dangerous as triatomine bugs, which are most commonly referred to as kissing bugs. In a recent study from Penn Medicine researchers in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, it was found that bed bugs were able to transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite linked to Chagas disease, from mouse to bed bug and back again.
The ability of triatomine bugs to transmit T. cruzi is well known. They have long been considered a vector for Chagas disease, which affects 6 to 8 million people worldwide and results in as many as 50,000 death each year. Surprisingly, it isn’t the bite of a triatomine bug that leads to the transfer of the parasite but contact with feces that are left on sleeping hosts, after feeding. Fortunately, triatomine bugs live outside of our homes. That is not the case with bed bugs. Bed bugs live almost exclusively with humans. This makes health agencies extremely nervous and has many wondering how much of the 8 million Chagas cases are linked to bed bugs.

What Is Chagas Disease?

The acute (early) stage of Chagas disease, which lasts months, is associated with a rash, fever, fatigue, swelling of the eyelids, swelling around the bite wound, body aches, headaches, loss of appetite, flu-like symptoms, swollen glands, and an enlargement of the spleen or liver. When Chagas disease becomes chronic, it can lead to an irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, sudden cardiac arrest, swollen esophagus, abdominal pain, and constipation. This is a serious illness that can lead to death. But, those who suffer from Chagas disease say there is a fate worse than death… living with the debilitating fatigue and chronic health problems can make life a sheer misery!

How Do You Know If You Have Chagas Disease?

This disease is diagnosed by the presence of the parasite T. cruzi in the bloodstream, which is found through microscopic examination or hemoculture of peripheral blood. If treated early, Chagas disease can be cured. Therefore, detection is key in preventing lifelong, chronic symptoms. So it is important to recognize acute symptoms if you’ve had a bed bug infestation or you are experiencing one right now.

Should You Be Afraid Of Bed Bug Diseases?

As research continues on the health risks of bed bugs, it is possible that more diseases could be linked to these insects. But, it is important to keep Chagas disease and other illnesses in perspective. Not every bug that bites you is infected with diseases. Bugs are not born with viruses. They acquire them from mammalian reservoirs. That means a bed bug has to bite an infected mouse, rat, dog, cat, human, or some other creature that has T. cruzi before it bites you. So, infestations of rodents and other wildlife, exposure to insects in your yard, and having pets can increase the risk of bed bugs acquiring diseases, but the risk is still low at this time.
We don’t need to live in fear of pest-related disease. We should simply take precautions to protect ourselves, our families, and our pets from unnecessary exposure. The best way to do this is to have ongoing pest control performed by an educated and experienced pest-control professional.
If you live in Arizona and you need assistance with bed-bug prevention or bed-bug elimination, reach out to Schendel Pest Services and request a free inspection. Our team is one of the best in the business. We’ll make sure those bugs are properly dealt with the first time!

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