Bed bugs are well known for maintaining a persistent and stubborn presence within homes. Although bed bugs suck blood from humans, the insects are not known disease vectors. However, this does not mean that bed bug bites never lead to severe medical conditions. Bed bugs can cause people to suffer negative health effects related to insomnia, and medical researchers have documented several cases of chronic anxiety caused by the lasting stress of dealing with bed bug infestations. Despite this, bed bugs were only recently recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a “public health threat,” but bed bugs are often dismissed as nothing more than nuisance household pests by those who have never suffered an infestation. While it is rare for a person to develop a lasting medical condition in response to repeated bed bug bites, one American citizen developed chronic urticaria due to living within a bed bug-infested home. “Chronic urticaria” is a dermatological condition that manifests in hives that heal and reappear repeatedly over a lengthy period of time. In addition to the hives, the bed bug victim was also suspected of having developed scabies due to the many bites that she had sustained within her infested home.
The female patient had been struggling with hives for six months before having her condition addressed by a medical professional. The woman stated that the hives became most irritating during the nighttime hours, while the following day saw the hives gradually decrease in severity. Medical tests showed that the woman had been experiencing an inflammatory response that was consistent with chronic urticaria. Insects were considered as a cause of the woman’s condition, so her home was sprayed with insecticides, and her doctor prescribed a topical medication for her hives and permethrin for suspected scabies. Not long afterward, the woman returned to her doctor where she showed numerous urticarial lesions on her legs, arms and back, and she also brought several bed bug specimens that she had found in her bed sheets. The woman’s symptoms disappeared permanently after being treated with oral corticosteroids and antihistamines. She also had to discard her mattress and bedding, and her home was professionally treated to address bed bugs.
Have you ever experienced the stress of a bed bug infestation?