ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Herbal Remedy Could Halt Peanut Allergy
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Green Tea May Help Brain Cope With Sleep Disorders
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
BONES & JOINTS
Living Near Major Road May Boost Rheumatoid Arthritis Risk
Heart Failure Raises Risk of Fractures
Varicose, Spider Veins May Be Inevitable for Some
CANCER
Many Cancer Patients Turn to Complementary Medicine
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
Vitamin D May Lower Colon Cancer Risk
CAREGIVING
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Obese Children More Likely to Suffer Lower Body Injuries
Organ Donation Policies Vary Among Children's Hospitals
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Contact Lenses Boost Kids' Self-Image
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
New Genetic Links to Baldness Discovered
DENTAL, ORAL
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
DIABETES
Saliva Test Could Monitor Type 2 Diabetes
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Exercise Protects Black Women From Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Eating Well And Keeping Active As You Grow Old Will Help You Stay Sharp
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Improved Fungicides May Be Easier on Environment
Skin Woes Take Toll on U.S. Combat Troops
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Blood Sugar Control Helps Diabetics Preserve Sight
FITNESS
Exercise Helps Reduce Falls in Young and Old
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
Resistance Training Boosts Mobility in Knee Arthritis Patients
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Soothing Imagery May Help Rid Some Kids of Stomach Pain
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
GENERAL HEALTH
'Organic' May Not Mean Healthier
Multivitamins Might Prolong Life
Good Sleepers More Likely to Eat Right
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Years of Heavy Smoking Raises Heart Risks
Western Diet Linked To Heart Disease, Metabolic Syndrome
Ginkgo Won't Prevent Heart Attack, Stroke in Elderly
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Dry Weather Boosts Odds of Flu Outbreaks
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Combo Treatment Eases Wheezing in Babies
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
Babies Who Eat Fish Lower Eczema Risk
MEN'S HEALTH
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
Low Vitamin D Levels May Boost Men's Heart Attack Risk
MENTAL HEALTH
Fear Response May Stem From Protein in Brain
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
Musicians' Brains Tuned to Emotions in Sound
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
SENIORS
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Many Cancer Survivors Don't Adopt Healthy Lifestyle
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Air Pollution Slows Women's Marathon Times
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Add your Article

Bed Bugs Bring No Disease Danger

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Although bed bugs might prevent you from sleeping soundly, the good news is that their bites don't appear to transmit illness, a new report finds.

Previously, some research had suggested that because bed bugs feed on blood, they might transmit certain illnesses. But, in the April 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers reviewed all of the studies done on the pesky critters to date and found no evidence of disease transmission.

They did find that some people have reactions to the bites, but these reactions are usually short-lived.

"While there is a nuisance effect from bed bug bites, the public health significance is minimal," said study author Jerome Goddard, an associate professor of entomology at Mississippi State University in Jackson. "It's not good. Nobody wants to have blood sucked out of them, but in the scheme of things, they're not carrying malaria or anything like that."

Goddard and his colleague, Dr. Richard deShazo from the University of Mississippi Medical Center, reviewed 53 studies on bed bugs published over the past 50 years.

Interestingly, they found that only about half of the people who are bitten show signs of a bite. And, for those who do react, the reaction can vary from a slight red spot that's intensely itchy like a mosquito bite to anaphylactic shock (a life-threatening allergic reaction), according to Goddard. But, he noted, anaphylactic shock is very rare.

The not-so-good news from this study was that infestations of bed bugs are on the rise all over the world, and these insects are becoming more resistant to pesticides.

For example, in San Francisco, reports of bed bug infestations doubled between 2004 and 2006, according to the study. In Toronto, during a six month period, reports of bed bugs jumped 100 percent in 2002, and in Austria, the number of bed bug samples submitted to the government went up 400 percent from during 2001 to 2004 compared to 1997 to 2000, reported the study.

"They're extremely difficult to get rid of, and they're not going away anytime soon," said Goddard. "They can live for a year without food, and they're becoming resistant to many of the pesticides used to kill them."

Greg Baumann, senior scientist and vice president of technical services for the National Pest Management Association, said that bed bugs are tough, but not impossible, to get rid of.

"It's not something a homeowner wants to do on their own, because bed bugs are very elusive. They can hide in the smallest of cracks and they're great hitchhikers. Professionals will perform a thorough inspection and develop a treatment program. And, even with the best technician, it may take more than one visit."

And, contrary to what many people believe, bed bug infestations have nothing to do with cleanliness. "They just come in on people's belongings. They're in the luggage and they crawl out. It can happen in a five-star hotel," said Goddard.

So, how can you keep these critters out of your bed? Goddard said that any time he stays in a hotel, the first thing he does is put his suitcases down in the bathroom. Then he pulls back the sheets and checks the seam of the mattress, looking for bugs or little black spots. Then, he looks at the box spring for the same type of evidence. If you see any evidence of bugs, ask for another room immediately, he said.

More information

Learn more about bed bugs from Cornell University.

Keeping Bed Bugs at Bay

Any time you travel, you're at risk of picking up bed bugs -- even in the ritziest of hotels, according to the experts. So, if you're traveling, these tips from Greg Baumann, a senior scientist with the National Pest Management Association, may help you keep these critters from crawling into your bed:

* Check the bed and headboard. When you first check in, look for any signs of small blood smears on the sheets. Look at the bed skirts and headboard for signs of bugs or any type of staining. Baumann suggested checking the furniture as well.
* If you see any evidence of bed bugs, immediately or after sleeping in the bed, contact the hotel management immediately. Baumann said that most hotels have detailed plans in place, and they'll relocate you and take that room out of service right away to address the problem.
* Check your suitcases when you get home. Even if you're confident that the hotel was clean, your bags probably still spent time pressed up against someone else's luggage while you were traveling.
* Wash all of your clothing in warm water when you get home. If a bed bug has survived in your clothing, a warm water wash should kill it, said Baumann. It's also a good idea to vacuum your suitcase when you get home.

Baumann said people should, "stay calm about bed bugs, but be vigilant, because they're becoming more and more common."



SOURCES: Jerome Goddard, Ph.D., associate professor, entomology, Mississipi State University, Jackson, Miss.; Greg Baumann, senior scientist and vice president, technical services, National Pest Management Association, Fairfax, Va.; April 1, 2009, Journal of the American Medical Association

Last Updated: March 31, 2009

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