Infectious Disease Compendium

Bed bugs



Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus are reddish-brown, flat, wingless ovals (4–7 mm). They eat blood (think Twilight) and can live for 12 months without feeding and up to 1.5–2 years in colder environments. There are a bunch of others that feed on other animals.

Epidemiologic Risks

Bed bugs fear light (hmm. Twilight again) and are usually active at night. They hide in bedclothes, mattresses, springs, bed frames, cracks, crevices, and wallpaper. They emit an easily recognized, offensive odor that is like a stink bug. Bed bug salvia is an anesthetic.

Beware of free furniture on the street. It is being given away for a reason.


An itchy erythematous maculopapule, 5 mm to 2 cm in diameter, with a central hemorrhagic crust or vesicle. That describes most rashes. It is occasionally urticarial.

Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite.

45 different pathogens have been suggested as spread by bedbugs; none have been definitely proven to have used bed bugs as a vector; hepatitis B has the best data (PubMed).

Vancouver, BC bed bugs have been found to carry MRSA and VRE.


Bed bug eradication is a difficult: Insecticide resistance is increasing and garlic doesn't work. You need to remove all bed linens and washing at a temperature of 60°C, checking and dismantling all furniture to access all bedbug hiding places, to identify and destroy eggs and vacuuming everything. There are dogs trained to find them.


They have been cultured and not only listen to opera and watch ballet, but also carry MRSA and VRE (PubMed). Which is worse?

"...bed bugs had medicinal value in treating ailments such as snake bites and ear infections. (Belief in the medicinal use of bed bugs persisted until at least the 18th century, when Guettard recommended their use in the treatment of hysteria (Wikipedia)."

Curious Cases

Relevant links to my Medscape blog

Trying To Put It Together

Last Update: 05/10/18.