Bed Bugs are an obvious nuisance pest to humans, however until recently a nuisance pest is all that bed bugs were believed to be. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania has found that bed bugs are possible to serve as vectors for Chagas disease, a potentially fatal illness affecting millions in Central and South America, and hundreds of thousands in the United States.
Typically Chagas is spread by a relative of the bedbug, the kissing bug. A kissing bug will transmit Chagas disease through a parasite that lives in their fecal matter. When a kissing bug feeds on a human they will defecate allowing the parasite to enter the bite wound. It can take years before the symptoms of Chagas will start to show but the disease can eventually lead to fatal heart disease.
The experiment conducted involved Chagas infected bed bugs and uninfected bed bugs feeding on uninfected mice and Chagas infected mice respectively. The results showed that in both cases the uninfected subjects ended up with Chagas. Similar to kissing bugs, bed bugs will also defecate while they feed therefore allowing the Chagas parasite to infect the bite wound.
The findings of this research is quite alarming but more research is necessary to replicate the findings and to find out if US bed bugs are already infected with Chagas. Also there has yet to been any data outside of the laboratory environment to confirm the ease in which bed bugs transfer Chagas. However to be certain of the safety of you and your family we urge you to consult a bed bug control expert for inspection or heat remediation of a bed bug infestation.