If bed bug prevention isn’t already on your to-do list – here’s another reason to add it. Researchers have now discovered that some bed bugs now carry treatment-resistant strains of the dangerous MRSA germ.
New research has identified bed bugs carrying the dangerous MRSA germ
One of the most terrifying developments in medicine has been the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant germs known as “superbugs.”
Bacteria like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as MRSA, can become deadly if they enter the human bloodstream – and overuse of antibiotics has enabled this germ to develop a resistance to most forms of the drugs used to treat it.
MRSA on its own is bad enough – posing a serious health risk to children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Now, however, Canadian scientists have detected drug-resistant staph bacteria in bed bugs taken from three hospital patients admitted from a downtrodden Vancouver neighborhood.
Although bed bugs themselves have not been reported to spread infection, their bites often become itchy and inflamed and doctors fear that patients who scratch their bed bug rashes could risk transmitting the potentially deadly bacteria into their bloodstream.
“Bedbugs carrying MRSA may have the potential to act as vectors for human transmission,” wrote Christopher F. Lowe and Marc G. Romney in their paper Bedbugs as Vectors for Drug-Resistant Bacteria.
“Blood feeding is a plausible potential mechanism for transmission of bacteria. Because of the insect’s ability to compromise the skin integrity of its host and the propensity for Staphylococcus aureus to invade damaged skin, bedbugs may amplify MRSA infections.”
The good news – if there’s any – is that research has so far failed to determine whether bed bugs carried the MRSA germs themselves, or had MRSA passed to them by humans they fed from in the impoverished Vancouver district where they were found.
Lowe and Romney also wrote: “MRSA can only colonize the salivary glands of bed bugs for as long as 15 days.” This at least reduces the risk of bed bugs transferring the treatment-resistant bacteria from one residence to another.
However, very little is known about the mechanism that transmits MRSA to bed bugs. This means that the true implications of this worrying discovery have yet to be determined.
With bed bug infestation an ever-growing problem, increasingly appearing all across the United States, the knowledge that bed bugs can carry and potentially transmit such a dangerous bacteria is real cause for concern.