Hepatitis B Virus in Bedbugs

Bed bugs probably originated somewhere in the Middle East in caves inhabited by both bats and humans. We once hoped that infestations of bed bugs were becoming a spectre of the past, but nowadays we know that hope is false, because these parasitic insects are increasing in numbers again.
This resurgence of bedbugs in the developed world may have been caused by a combination of increased international travel, increased immigration from the developing world to the developed world, and increased resistance to insecticides.

The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is the best studied species because it prefers to feed on human blood. Biting bed bugs may result in skin rashes, allergic or asthmatic symptoms or anaemia.

But the common bed bug may pose a greater risk than these ailments alone, because research[1] indicates that the common bed bug may harbour the Hepatitis B Virus. Further research[2] suggests that the Hepatitis B Virus may be mechanically transmitted in faeces or when bugs are crushed during feeding.

More Hepatitis News can be found here.

[1] Silverman et al: Assessment of hepatitis B virus DNA and hepatitis C virus RNA in the common bedbug (Cimex lectularius L.) and kissing bug (Rodnius prolixus) in American Journal of Gastroenterology - 2001 
[2] Blow et al: Stercorarial shedding and transtadial transmission of hepatitis B virus by common bed bugs (Hemiptera: Cimicidae) in Journal of Medical Entomology - 2001

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