Although bed bugs
have been found naturally-infected with blood-borne pathogens, they are not
effective vectors of disease. The primary medical importance is
inflammation associated with their bites (due to allergic reactions to
components in their saliva).
inflammatory reaction to the bites is not diagnostic specifically for
bed bugs, and confirmation of a bed bug bite or infestation is best
achieved by identification of adults or nymphs collected in sheltered
areas near where the patient was bitten. Bed bugs possess stink
glands and emit a distinctive odor; homes or motel/hotel rooms with
heavy infestations may have this odor.
Bed bug bites are usually self-limiting, and require
little attention other than antiseptic creams or lotions to prevent
infection at the bite site. Efforts should be made to eliminate
the source of the bed bugs in their sheltered locations.
Insecticide treatments are usually effective, but care should be taken,
as people may have prolonged contact with treated areas (beds, couches,
etc). Professional pest control is recommended as over-the-counter
pesticides are usually ineffective. Local environmental health officials should be contacted regarding
control efforts in public places (hotels, motels, etc).