Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs

Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown, flattened, oval and wingless. Bed bugs have microscopic hairs that give them a banded appearance. Adults grow to 4–5 mm in length and 1.5–3 mm wide. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color and become browner as they moult and reach maturity. Bed bugs may be mistaken for other insects such as booklice and carpet beetles, or vice-versa.

Bed bugs use pheromones and kairomones to communicate regarding nesting locations, feeding and reproduction.

The life span of bed bugs varies by species and is also dependent on feeding.

Bed bugs can survive a wide range of temperatures and atmospheric compositions. Below 16.1 °C (61.0 °F), adults enter semi-hibernation and can survive longer.[10] Bed bugs can survive for at least five days at -10 °C (14.0 °F) but will die after 15 minutes of exposure to -32 °C (-26 °F).[11] They show high desiccation tolerance, surviving low humidity and a 35–40 °C range even with loss of one-third of body weight; earlier life stages are more susceptible to drying out than later ones.[12] The thermal death point for C. lectularius is high: 45 °C (113 °F), and all stages of life are killed by 7 minutes of exposure to 46 °C (115 °F).[11] Bed bugs apparently cannot survive high concentrations of carbon dioxide for very long; exposure to nearly-pure nitrogen atmospheres, however, appears to have relatively little effect even after 72 hours.[13]

A bedbug can individually and collectively cause a number of health effects including skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms.[1] Bedbug bites or cimicosis may lead to a range of skin manifestations from no visible effects to prominent blisters.[2]:446 Diagnosis involves both finding bedbugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms.[1] Treatment involves the elimination of the insect but is otherwise symptomatic.[1]

Because infestation of human habitats has been on the increase in developed countries, bedbug bites and related conditions have been on the rise as well, since the 1980s-1990s.[3][4] The exact causes of this resurgence remain unclear; it is variously ascribed to greater foreign travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings among homes, a greater focus on control of other pests resulting in neglect of bedbug countermeasures, and increasing resistance to pesticides.[4][5] Bedbugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.[3]

Individual responses to bites vary, ranging from no visible effect (in about 20-70%)[1][3] to small macular spots, prominent wheals and bullae formation along with intense itching that may last several days.[1] A central hemorrhagic spot may also occur due to the release of anticoagulants in the saliva.[4]

Symptoms may not appear until some days after the bites have occurred.[1] Reactions often become more brisk after multiple bites due to possible sensitization to the salivary proteins of the bedbug.[3] The skin reaction usually occurs in the area of the bite which is most commonly the arms, shoulders and legs as they are more frequently exposed at night.[1] Numerous bites may lead to an erythematous rash or urticaria.[1]

A number of other symptoms may occur from either the bite of the bed bugs or from their exposure. Anaphylaxis from the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins has been rarely documented.[1][7] Due to each bite taking about 1 ml of blood chronic or severe infestation may lead to anemia.[1] Bacterial skin infection may occur due to skin break down from scratching.[1][8] Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous.[9] Exposure to bed bugs may trigger an asthma attack via the effects of airborne allergens however evidence of this association is limited.[1] There is no evidence that bedbugs transmit infectious diseases[1] even though they appear physically capable of carrying pathogens and this possibility has been investigated.[1][3] The bite itself may be painful thus resulting in poor sleep and worse work performance.[1]

Bedbug bites are caused by bedbugs primarily of two species Cimex lectularius (the common bedbug) and Cimex hemipterus.[3] Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene.[10] These insects feed exclusively on blood and may survive a year without eating.[3] They are attracted by body warmth and carbon dioxide.[4] Transfer to new places is usually in the personal effects of the human they feed upon.[3]

Treatment

Treatment requires keeping the person from being repeatedly bitten and possible symptomatic use of antihistamines and corticosteroids (either topically or systemically).[1] There however is no evidence that medications improve outcomes and symptoms usually resolving without treatment in 1–2 weeks.[3][4]

Avoiding repeated bites can be difficult, since it usually requires eradicating bedbugs from a home or workplace; eradication frequently requires a combination of pesticide and non pesticide approaches.[3] Pesticides that have historically been found to be effective include: pyrethroids, dichlorvos and malathion.[4] Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time and there are concerns of negative health effects from their usage.[3] Mechanical approaches such as vacuuming up the insects and heat treating or wrapping mattresses have been recommended.[3]

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