NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bedbugs Found Carrying Drug-Resistant Bacteria

August 3, 2011

The nation's bedbug population, which was almost completely wiped out in the United States through the use of DDT, has grown particularly rapidly during the past 10 years.  Infestations have overwhelmed schools, hospitals, apartment buildings and hotels, particularly in large cities, says the Heartland Institute.

Adding a new and dangerous twist to the bedbug resurgence, Canadian researchers have discovered bedbugs carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE).  MRSA is a bacterial infection that is highly resistant to some antibiotics and can become deadly if the infection gets through the skin and into the bloodstream.  VRE is a less dangerous form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

  • Marc Romney, one of the study's authors and a medical microbiologist at St. Paul's Hospital, an inner-city hospital in Vancouver, noticed a rise in bedbugs and of cases of MRSA.
  • To check the connection, researchers collected five bedbugs from patients, then crushed and analyzed them.
  • The researchers found MRSA on three of them and VRE on the other two.

The bedbug resurgence is a foreseeable result of poor policy decisions, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • "In the early 1970s, the government banned the pesticide DDT, and now we're seeing bedbug infestations in European and North American cities," says Burnett.
  • "Government should lift the ban on DDT and other pesticides that are effective in treating pests like bedbugs," he added.

Source: Kenneth Artz, "Bedbugs Found Carrying Drug-Resistant Staph," Heartland Institute, August 1, 2011.

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