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Bedbugs found to be carrying MRSA superbugs

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 by: Sally Oaken
Tags: bedbugs, superbugs, health news

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(Natural News) While bedbugs may be creepy and insidious, and the discovery of a home infestation can be heartbreaking, embarrassing and financially costly, these tiny insects have not yet been linked to the transmission of any form of human disease.

But this assessment may soon change. New concerns about bedbugs may be arising as a result of recent research conducted on bugs found in an impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of Vancouver. Canadian scientists analyzed five crushed bedbugs taken from three hospital patients in the neighborhood and found evidence of drug resistant staph bacteria in the bodies of some of the insects.

No evidence suggests that the bedbugs were spreading the drug resistant bacteria between human patients, and bedbugs have never been vectors for any known disease agent. But bedbug bites can cause itching. Itching can lead to scratching, and breaks in the skin brought on by excessive scratching can form a point of entry for the dangerous MSRA bacteria, which can be difficult to combat once infection begins.

The Downtown Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver, which lies along an economically disadvantaged section of the city's waterfront, has experienced a simultaneous boom in bedbugs and MSRA cases. This inspired DR. Marc Romney, a microbiologist at St. Paul's Hospital, to work together with his colleagues to conduct this preliminary study. Five bedbugs were removed from hospital patients and their belongings and crushed. Analysis of the remains revealed MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, in three of the bugs. MSRA bacteria may be deadly if it enters the bloodstream and is resistant to many common forms of antibiotics.

Two of the bugs contained VRE, or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, a less deadly form of bacteria that also shows a tendency toward antibiotic resistance.

Both of these strains of bacteria are commonly found in hospitals, and they are far less likely to be spread by bedbugs than by health care workers and other environmental contaminants. It's also not clear if the bacteria originated with the bedbugs or if the bugs picked it up from patients who had already been infected.

All the same, Romney and his colleagues report that the findings of the study are very intriguing, if preliminary, and they suggest that further research is necessary to clarify the connection between MSRA bacteria and bedbug infestations. The study was published early in May, 2011 by Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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