Bed Bugs And Disease
It has long been assumed that bed bugs do not spread diseases to humans. They've just been viewed as irritating nuisance pests that feed on us while we're sleeping and leave behind small, itchy welts on our skin that, when scratched excessively, can lead to secondary infection. And for a long time, that was the only real threat posed by these pests, or so we thought. However, recent academic studies are revealing a link between Cimex lectularius (bed bugs) and Trypanosoma cruzi, which is the parasite responsible for causing Chagas disease.
What Is Chagas Disease?
If you're not familiar with Chagas disease, it is a disease caused by the T. cruzi parasite that is spread by insect vectors. This illness is mostly endemic to South America and is linked to serious heart disease. It is estimated that 300,000 U.S. citizens are infected with this parasite and, of those infected, as many as 45,000 have developed this heart disease.
Worldwide, it is estimated that approximately 8 million people are infected with T. cruzi, many of them in Latin America. Therefore, the risk of Chagas disease is higher in the areas of the United States that are closer to that region such as the southern states of Florida, Texas, and even our home state of South Carolina!
In our South Carolina service area, this disease is known to be spread by "kissing bugs," which are triatomine bugs. Fortunately, the parasite T. cruzi is not spread to us easily. The feces of these insects must enter into a bite wound for transmission to occur as they pass the T. cruzi parasite in their feces after feeding on infected individuals. These wounds are commonly inflicted by these bugs around the eyes and mouths of people while they sleep, usually in an outdoor environment. So if you don't spend much time camping, you're probably not going to be exposed in this way. But recent studies are showing that, if you have a bed bug infestation, you could be exposed to this parasite and this disease in the comfort of your own home.
It is important to understand that the risk of contracting this disease in the Unites States is extremely low. You're not going to contract the T. cruzi parasite from any insect that hatched inside your home. This is because both triatomine bugs and bed bugs only contract the T. cruzi parasite after feeding on people infected with T. cruzi. So if no one in your home is infected, it is very unlikely you’ll contract Chagas disease.
Most of the time, a bed bug infestation will just be a frustrating nightmare that will have you losing sleep and scratching at the itchy bites they leave behind. But that is still enough for most people to want those parasitic pests eliminated!
While there are some things you can do to help stop an infestation in your home on your own, we strongly recommend seeking the assistance of a pest control professional. Here are a few of the many reasons we recommend professional help:
- Bed bugs are extremely difficult to get rid of once they’ve invaded.
- Many of the ideas you may come up with to get rid of bed bugs such as throwing out your mattress, box spring, or couch could end up costing you a lot of money and still leave you battling with bed bugs in your home. In fact, these measures have almost a zero percent chance of arresting a bed bug infestation.
- When you try to get rid of bed bugs on your own using DIY bed bug control methods, you may end up spending a lot of money on products that simply won't work.
- While you go about trying to rid your home of bed bugs, those bugs will continue to bite you and everyone else living in your home.
- Attempting to eliminate bed bugs with DIY methods is not only exhausting, but also frustrating and mentally taxing.
- Trying to rid your home of bed bugs without an education in pest control can lead to many unfortunate consequences: the bugs can spread to others, toxic chemicals can make the people in your home become sick, an improper heat treatment can cause a loss of property and/or human life, to name just a few.
- Bed bugs are resilient and adaptable pests. Not only can they go for months without a blood meal and survive constant or heavy application of dangerous control products by hiding away in hidden areas, but they can also build up a resistance to those products!
- Pest control experts take the risk factor out of bed bug control. A licensed and certified professional will use trusted methods, EPA-approved products, and industrial-strength technologies to systematically eliminate bed bugs in a way those bugs cannot evade and in a way that is safe for you, your family, and your pets!
What Should SC Residents Do If They Suspect A Bed Bug Problem?
Bed bugs in South Carolina have the potential to be a serious health threat. But even if they aren't, these nuisance pests are widely known for tormenting people with itchy, and sometimes painful, bites. That alone will probably be enough to make you want to get rid of them as soon as possible!
When bed bugs appear in your home, the best solution is to hire a professional. It is just not worth it to try to get rid of these bugs on your own! Click here to learn more about our bed bug control services or reach out to us at Spencer Pest Services today for more information!