The bed bug may be just as dangerous as its sinister cousin, the triatomine, or “kissing” bug. A new study from Penn Medicine researchers in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics demonstrated that bed bugs, like the triatomines, can transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease, one of the most prevalent and deadly diseases in the Americas.
More people in the U.S. are infected with T. cruzi now than ever before. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the number of Chagas disease cases in the U.S. today could be as high as 300,000.
In a study published online this week in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, a series of laboratory experiments demonstrated bi-directional transmission of T. cruzi between mice and bed bugs.

“We’ve shown that the bed bug can acquire and transmit the parasite. ” says , Michael Z. Levy, senior author, PhD, and assistant professor in the department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology.

Read more about the study at University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine‘s website.