All of us in the Bed Bug world had always believed that other than bites and itchy welts, bed bugs didn't cause any harm. Now researchers from North Carolina State University, think otherwise. A new study discovered that bed bugs can actually increase the risk of deadly asthma and other allergic reactions, even after the bed bug infestation has been cleared.
This is due to insects abandoning histamine in their fecal matter, which inflames allergy symptoms in humans. These uninvited guests suck our blood but upon leaving they also drop unpleasant remnants of them on our mattresses, bed frames, baseboards, and furniture.
The droppings which are filled with histamine, stay long after the exterminators have cleared the bed bugs. The histamine can cause lingering illness and allergic reactions, such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, and difficulty breathing. What does affect asthma sufferers is histamine can cause skin rashes and inflammation of the airways. Sufferers of respiratory conditions and asthma could be in quite a precarious situation.
Published in the journal PLOS One, the study included testing 30 North Carolina apartment complexes. There were some homes infested, some had recently been treated and others never infested. Histamine levels 20 times greater than homes with no bed bugs, were found in the infested homes, and this elevation remained for months after the bed bugs were removed.
The report's lead author, Zachary DeVries said, "Infestations can reach exceedingly high levels, especially among the elderly and in disadvantaged communities, where interventions may be unaffordable. While bed bug bites have been recognized as a dermatological concern, that can be exacerbated and lead to secondary infections, bed bugs have not been implicated as disease vectors or allergen producers. The results of this study demonstrate that the presence of bed bugs strongly correlates with histamine levels in homes and thus may adversely affect the health of residents through exposure to exogenous histamine."
DeVries concludes the danger related to bed bug histamine could rival that caused by allergies from dust mites and cockroaches. Since bed bugs like to remain close to humans this only increases the impact. Low-income households could be hardest hit, as they have no means to afford the necessary treatments to remove bed bugs.
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