As if the bed bug epidemic didn’t have people freaked out enough, a recent Canadian news headline just made things worse. It was a story that said bedbugs had been linked to flesh-eating disease and went on to say that two drug-resistant strains of staph (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus [VRE]) were found in five bed bugs from three individuals in a neighborhood of Vancouver, where bed bug infestations have been particularly prevalent. The staph germs were the type that have made headlines in recent years when hospital patients contract infections that don’t respond to normal treatment.
But as alarming as the tone of the article is, even the public official quoted in the article said the study was too small to warrant issuing a public health alert. The article also notes that drug-resistant staph is found on doctors’ ties and chairs in public spaces.
Calmer heads in the scientific community are trying to prevent panic. One article, expressing surprise that the data from such a preliminary study was released, points out that it hasn’t even been determined whether the drug-resistant germ was found in the bed bugs’ salivary glands, in which case the risk of infection to human host might be worse, or on their exterior bodies.
So far, bed bugs have never been proven to transmit any human diseases.