Dangers of Bed Bugs to New York State Residents

bed bug crawling on skin

If no one has told you yet, bed bugs are a problem in New York State. But, you probably already know that. While you would have been hard-pressed to find a bed bug two decades ago, infestations are popping up everywhere now. You may even know someone who has had to deal with an infestation, or you've dealt with one yourself. You might even be dealing with one right now at this very moment. If you are, and you're wondering if those bed bugs present a danger to you and other people living in your home, you've come to the right place.

Bed bugs are an old threat that is reappearing in the civilized world. While these bugs have been plaguing humanity since the dawn of time, they were nearly wiped out in the 1950s by a miraculous--and unfortunately hazardous--product called DDT. So, the government of the United States banned it in the 70s. DDT was so powerful, it took three decades for bed bug infestations to take root here. Now, they're common. Too common. Because there is no pest control protocol that is able to shield a home from an infestation. The best we can do is take precautions to prevent bed bugs and deal with these insects immediately when they appear.

As a "new" pest control problem, researchers are having to play catch up. For years it was believed that bed bugs did not spread disease to humans. Most blood-borne diseases break down in a bed bug very quickly. But new studies are finding that some pathogens can survive in bed bugs and it is possible that these could lead to serious illness.

In a recent study conducted by the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Penn Medicine and the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru, researchers were able to demonstrate that bed bugs can carry and transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, which is the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

If you're not familiar with Chagas disease, with the onset of Chagas disease (which can last weeks or months) there may be a rash, fever, swelling at the site of the infection, fatigue, body aches, swelling in the eyelids, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, swollen glands, and an enlargement of the liver or spleen. When this disease develops to the chronic stage, symptoms may include irregular heartbeat, sudden cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure, enlarged esophagus, constipation, and abdominal pain.

There are many ways to contract Chagas disease. It can be acquired through eating uncooked food that has been contaminated with feces; passed from pregnant mother to unborn child; acquired through transfusion of infected blood or an organ transplant; contracted from camping in a forest with infected animals; and acquired through a bite from an infected bug that is able to transmit T. cruzi, like the triatomine "kissing" bug. And now, the bed bug.

Since its reappearance, the primary danger of bed bugs has been its ability to cause mental trauma for some individuals. While this is still the case, the developing research linking them to the heart-damaging Chagas disease is quickly taking center stage.

What Should You Do About Bed Bugs?

Before we tell you what you "should" do, let's take a quick look at what you "shouldn't" do. The internet is filled with tips on how to get rid of bed bugs. Some of those tips include products or methods used by professional pest control technicians. But before you take advantage of the nearly-endless suggestions given by the internet, you should know that bed bugs are extraordinarily difficult to get rid of. They are wired to avoid threats and can go into a low-energy state called diapause and hide for months, or even a year, without feeding. That means you can think you got rid of them only to have them emerge again, over and over.

The best solution is to contact a trusted pest control professional. An educated bed-bug technician has specialized equipment and products that work to eliminate bed bugs, and the training to properly administer treatments effectively.

If you live in Albany, New York, or the surrounding area, start here for industry-leading bed bug control.

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