Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs: A Public Health Issue

Bed bugs are a public health pest. While bed bugs have not been shown to transmit disease, they do cause a variety of negative physical health, mental health and economic consequences. Some of these effects include:

  • Allergic reactions to their bites, which can be severe. Effects ranging from no reaction to a small bite mark to, in rare cases, anaphylaxis (severe, whole-body reaction).
  • Secondary infections of the skin from the bite reaction, such as impetigo, ecthyma, and lymphanigitis.
  • Mental health impacts on people living in infested homes. Reported effects include anxiety, insomnia and systemic reactions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed a document to highlight emerging public health issues associated with bed bugs in communities throughout the United States.

Joint Statement on Bed Bug Control in the United States from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPA, in collaboration with CDC and USDA, has defined the concept of a public health pest and has developed a list of pests of significant public health importance (PDF) (32 pp, 347k, About PDF).