The year 2010 saw a massive return of bedbugs after a long hibernation, as the bugs were thought to be eradicated in the 1940s. Hotels, apartment buildings, homes, and even stores suddenly found infestations of these pests emerging. Ever since bedbugs have frequently topped web search trends for stretches of time as these bugs seem to keep making the rounds.
While last year’s bedbug news was pretty dismal, this year’s news has high potential to be perhaps even more dire. Researchers are now reporting a disturbing trend that may be emerging as bedbugs appear to be carrying a staph ‘superbug’ called Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or better known as MRSA.
According to CBS News scientists have detected drug-resistant staph bacteria in bedbugs taken from three hospital patients in Vancouver. A total of five bedbugs were tested, three were found to be carrying MRSA and two had Enterococcus faecium (VRE), a serious strain, but less dangerous than MRSA.
Traditionally bedbugs have been more of a nuisance rather than a concern for disease, and at this time it is too early to tell whether or not the bugs picked up the staph from the patients or vice versa. Drug resistant bacteria has long been a concern in facility settings due to the rapid rate infections can spread, although 2010 saw an overall drop in medical facilities, including 28 percent of individuals who were in-patient.
Dr. Marc Romney, author of the bedbug-MRSA connection study, said that excessive scratching caused by bedbugs can lead to broken skin that makes individuals more susceptible to pick up the bacteria.
The study is far from conclusive. Romney says “It’s an intriguing finding” that needs to be further researched reports CBS. What prompted the study was a notation of a simultaneous surge in both bedbugs and MRSA cases from the Vancouver neighborhood.
What is disturbing is that bedbugs may be the carriers, so beyond the excessive itching, those that come into contact with infected bedbugs can possibly become seriously ill with the antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
MSNBC reports Romney said “MRSA infections usually require a break in the skin, and bedbugs do bite, so they could transmit infections theoretically,” Romney said. “These bedbugs could carry the organism from one human to another.”
MRSA is a bacteria that is antibiotic resistant and can be deadly if enters into the bloodstream. If bedbugs can spread the disease this can lead to a serious public health issue, especially considering the high level of infestations of the bugs that have been occurring over the past year.
The bedbug-MRSA study, published on May 11, 2011, can be read in its entirety at Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is a publication put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).