Alarming combo: Bedbugs with 'superbug' germ found

Alarming combo: Bedbugs with 'superbug' germ found

May 11th, 2011 by Associated Press in Local - Breaking News

This 2006 photograph depicted a frontal view of an adult bed bug, <i>Cimex lectularius</i>, as it was in the process of ingesting a blood meal from the arm of a "voluntary" human host.<p>Bed bugs are not vectors in nature of any known human disease. Although some disease organisms have been recovered from bed bugs under laboratory conditions, none have been shown to be transmitted by bed bugs outside of the laboratory. Bed bug bites are difficult to diagnose due to the variability in bite response between people, and due to the change in skin reaction for the same person over time. It is best to collect and identify bed bugs to confirm bites. Bed bugs are responsible for loss of sleep, discomfort, disfiguring from numerous bites and occasionally bites may become infected. The common bed bug <i>C. lectularius</i> is a wingless, red-brown, blood-sucking insect that grows up to 7 mm in length and has a lifespan from 4 months up to 1 year. Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices in beds, wooden furniture, floors, and walls during the daytime and emerge at night to feed on their preferred host, humans.<p>Bed bug bites can result in clinical manifestations; the most common are small clusters of extremely pruritic, erythematous papules or wheals that represent repeated feedings by a single bed bug. Less common but more severe manifestations include grouped vesicles, giant urticaria, and hemorrhagic bullous eruptions. Bites should be managed symptomatically with topical emollients, topical corticosteroids, oral antihistamines, or some combination of these treatments.

ATLANTA - Hate insects? Afraid of germs? Researchers are reporting an alarming combination: bedbugs carrying "superbug" germs.

Canadian scientists detected drug-resistant MRSA bacteria in bedbugs from three hospital patients from a downtrodden Vancouver neighborhood.

Bedbugs have not been known to spread disease, and there's no clear evidence that the five bedbugs found on the patients or their belongings had spread MRSA or a second less dangerous drug-resistant germ.

However, bedbugs can cause itching that can lead to excessive scratching. That can cause breaks in the skin that make people more susceptible to these bacteria, noted Dr. Marc Romney, one of the study's authors.

The study is small and very preliminary, "But it's an intriguing finding" that needs to be further researched, said Romney, medical microbiologist at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver.

The hospital is the closest one to the poor Downtown Eastside neighborhood near the city's waterfront. Romney said he and his colleagues did the research after seeing a simultaneous boom in bedbugs and MRSA cases from the neighborhood.

Five bedbugs were crushed and analyzed. MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was found on three bugs. MRSA is resistant to several types of common antibiotics and can become deadly if it gets through the skin and into the bloodstream.

Two bugs had VRE, or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus Faecium, a less dangerous form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Both germs are often seen in hospitals, and experts have been far more worried about nurses and other health-care workers spreading the bacteria than insects.

It's not clear if the bacteria originated with the bedbugs or if the bugs picked it up from already infected people, Romney added.

The study was released Wednesday by Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.