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Bedbugs carry drug-resistant MRSA bacteria, but could only spread it in some situations

May 11, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Canadian researchers discovered bedbugs on three Vancouver patients carried bacteria resistant to methicillin and vancomycin.
Canadian researchers discovered bedbugs on three Vancouver patients… (Centers for Disease Control )

Bedbugs leave their victims with itchy red welts, but they haven’t been considered much of a threat when it comes to the spread of disease. A new report calls that assumption into question.

Researchers have now found antibiotic-resistant bacteria in bedbugs from three hospital patients in Vancouver, Canada. On one patient, researchers found three bedbugs carrying methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a bacterium resistant to many common antibiotics. 

On two patients, they found a bedbug with vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, or VRE, another bacterium resistant to common antibiotics. 

The report was published online before being printed in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases

The researchers hasten to point out that there is no, repeat, no evidence linking bedbugs to disease transmission. But, they say, it’s possible.

They suggest that scratching a bedbug bite, for example, could open up the skin and allow the potentially dangerous bacteria to take hold.

This isn’t the first time household critters (if one can call a bedbug a household critter) have been suspected of transmitting MRSA. In 2009, a study suggested that cat and dog bites spread the disease -- although experts pointed out most MRSA is transmitted from humans to humans.

healthkey@tribune.com

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