Why you should not take a bedbug bite lightly


Bedbugs have been a growing area of concern in both developed and developing part of the worlds. There has been an increased outbreak and resurgence in the number of infestations in the past several decades. This increase in infestation has created not only serious health concerns but also  vector control challenges.  Currently, nearly all continents of the world have reported significant bedbug infectivity. Here in Kenya, the problem of bed bug has become a common phenomenon from residential properties, schools, commercial buildings, public transport and essentially any other place people sleep or sit. Despite the arthropod being a serious societal and public issue, there is little knowledge on health implications, treatment and prevention and control of bed bug. Discover why bedbug is not

Although there over 90 named known species of bedbugs, only a few of them bite human with two bugs being the most prominent (C. lectularius and C. hemipterus ). The arthropod has five instars stages that can typically engorge within 3-10minutes. Both the instars and the adult require a blood meal for nutrition and development. These insects are attracted to human through carbon dioxide, heat, and other body emanations. Bedbugs walk to a human host and sucks blood at 1-5am when one is in deep sleep. Under cool conditions, the insect may stay more than one year (485 days) without feeding.


Cimex lectularius http://www.allencountyhealth.com/get-informed/environmental-health-hazards/healthy-homes-2/pest-control/bed-bugs/

The most common clinical implication of bedbug bite is cutaneous reactions. Although some people may not produce any response at all, the severity of reaction varies in different individuals with and may grow up to 6cm. Some individuals with multiple bites may even develop fever and malaise. Worse still, the lesion tends to be intense itchy which leading to more scratching and significantly more pain.

It is a  common practice to misdiagnose bedbug since the bite is difficult to identify and characterize. The bite further varies between individuals and therefore complicating detection and diagnosis. In most cases, a bedbug bite may be confused with a mosquito bite, allergic reactions, chicken pox or even antibiotic reactions. Such misdiagnosis not only leads to medication errors but also has in many times facilitated further spread of the infestation.

In most cases, you may have an infestation for weeks or even months  but keep treating different causes. Such misdiagnosis and wrong medications are very common with children who may not understand that they have been infested with bedbugs. There are various cases where parents have treated and subjected their children to different test only to one day visit their children at night and find the blood insect feasting.

In fact, there are dermatological diseases that may be treated as bedbug bites especially Grover’s disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and miliaria. It is, therefore, important to identify precisely the bite and most importantly, the insect before any treatment is done. Typically, detecting and identifying the insect is the first intervention against these infestations. Although there is no standard treatment for the bite, a systematic antihistamine can be used to relief pain, most bites are self-limiting and will heal about 1-2 weeks or less depending on individual.

Health and general implications

Sleep deprivation


Sleep deprivation is the most common health implication of a bedbug infestation. In most cases, individuals  experience insomnia and sleeplessness. They will typically wake up during the night due to the itching, and more scratching may even exacerbate sleep. In equally the same intensity, individuals with previous bedbug encounter may have disturbed sleep due to the fact of just having the knowledge of such past encounters. From affecting neurocognitive functioning, your emotional status, and psychological issues, persistence sleeplessness has a hazardous effect on an individual’s personal health. It may also facilitate to long-term illness such as heart diseases.

Infectious diseases

Bedbug infestation has also been associated with various infectious diseases. There a high probability that bedbug may transmit various pathogens such as bacteria, protozoans viruses, and certain nematode. The role of such bites in contracting Hepatitis B virus and other blood-borne viruses is still a speculation. However, it has reportedly been shown that HBV virus has been shown to persist in the insect several weeks after feeding on Hepatitis B-infected patient. In fact, a particular study in West Africa found that HIV could be detected in a bedbug eight days after exposure. Such transmission has however not been scientifically proven.

Bedbug and Asthma

Just like other arthropod and domestic pest, bed bugs can create a certain allergic reaction and can act as triggers for asthmatic attacks and hypersensitivity. An increase in the contact between bedbugs and humans induce several allergic and respiratory reactions. Bed bug management and treatment is known to reduce such health implications. Since bed bugs may take more blood than most common insects, it is can also cause severe anemia especially in persistence and multiple infestations.

Mental health

The numerous associations of Bedbug with mental implications such as shame, fatigue distress anxiety, and social stigma. Individuals infected with bedbug are more likely to experience social isolation, emotional stress and even far-reaching health effects such as psychotic spectrum illnesses and psychiatric hospitalization. There is even a public notion that erroneously associates bedbugs with poor hygiene. As a result, people suffering from such infestations often consider themselves “dirty” and ‘clean.” The situation becomes worse once an individual discovers that his/her bed is infested with bed bug, a place where many consider intimate and where one to rest from the daily stress of life. Psychological trauma and delusionary parasitosis may develop where individuals feel the bite or insect crawling even when there is no bedbug infestation.

Confidence and Self-esteem

A bed bug bite can severely disfigure part of your face or the neck. Such horrible consequences can lower someone’s self-esteem and may even deny you an employment opportunity. For instance, various jobs that may require individuals to expose some parts of your body especially in the movie and theater industries may serious are hindered by such disfigurations. Also, bedbug bites have been shown to change human behavior significantly. Numerous cases of people changing their means of travel if they carry bed bug home, or even fail to failing to gym lockers if they discovered they were infested with bedbugs.

Economic implications


The other economic rather than health income would be the economic losses if certain business premises were determined to have bed bug infestations. Since bed bugs can be found virtually anywhere from hospitals, schools dormitories and other business, discovering bed bug infestations has led to their closure leading to massive economic losses. Apart from high control cost of outbreaks, there is high ligation fear particular with those in hospitality industries due to various multimillion-dollar lawsuits that former clients have filed as a result of exposing them to such bedbug bites. The cost of tarnishing or unpopular media publicity on a particular business is even bigger than the actual control.


Perhaps, insecticide resistance is far more prominent in bed bug than other vector causing disease. Such insecticide resistance and the huge cost involved in bed bug control makes the vector more expensive to control from residential, personal homes and even in other business. The frustration has led to quite desperate and more dangerous eradication measure that could even endanger human lives. Join me in my next blog post as I explain the possible prevention strategies and various control options available for bedbug infestations.





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