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Disease: Bedbugs Bedbugs
Category: Infectious diseases
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Disease Definition:

Bedbugs are tiny six-legged insects that hide during the day and feast on a person's blood at night.
The common bedbug is a reddish-brown insect that doesn’t grow much longer than 0.5 centimeters (about 0.2 inches). To keep someone's blood flowing as they suck, these bedbugs inject an anticoagulant along with a numbing agent in order to keep the person from feeling them when they’re at work.

Even though bedbugs can be host to the organisms that cause hepatitis B and Chaga’s disease, however, they aren’t known to spread disease to humans.

In some severe cases, a person may need to see a doctor; however, treatment usually involves self care.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Usually, signs and symptoms of bedbug bites only affects the surface of the skin and look like small itchy red bumps known as papules or wheals. The lesions could be found in a linear or clustered fashion, indicating repeated feedings by a single bedbug.

In some cases, some people could develop allergic reaction or larger skin reactions, such as:

  • Blister-like skin inflammations
  • Skin rashes similar to hives
  • Large and itchy wheals that are up to 20 centimeters across (about 8 inches)
  • Groups of small and swollen sacs of puss


Bedbugs feed on any mammal, including dogs and cows.

Because of the increase in world travel, bedbugs are getting into a home through clothing worn abroad and luggage.

DDT is a product that eliminates most insects that has been used for a long time, but now, because of human toxicity concerns, its use is being phased out, and current extermination practices are more insect-specific, which means that whatever’s toxic to a cockroach may not kill a bedbug.



Although some people develop complicated reactions to bedbug bites including dilation of the capillaries under the skin, formation of puss-filled blisters and hives up to 8 inches across and clusters of inflamed red bumps, however, most people experience only the itchy skin welts that bedbugs cause while feeding.

In some very rare cases, anaphylactic shock may occur as an allergic reaction to the substances the bedbug injects while feeding.


Bites usually resolve within one or two weeks, so that relieving the symptoms is the only treatment of bedbug bites.
Someone who has been bitten by bed bugs should:

  • Avoid scratching to prevent infection
  • To help relieve allergic reactions, they take antihistamines when needed
  • To relieve itching, they should apply a topical cream, such as cortisone.
  • In case of having severe reactions, they should consult their doctor. If infection occurs, an antibiotic may be recommended and for a severe allergic reaction, oral corticosteroids may be recommended.

A person should tackle the infestation once their symptoms are treated.

  • They should freeze their pajamas, sheets and other bedclothes for at least 24 hours or launder them in hot water of at least 97 F (36 C).
  • Vacuum the area of infestation daily and freeze the vacuum bags for 24 hours
  • Use insecticide sprays around cracks and crevices in their home, such as malathion, permethrin and dichlorvos.

Garden stores may have permethrin and lawn and garden insect control sprays might contain these insecticides. However, a professional inspection of the bedbug habitat and subsequent extermination will probably be required.


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