Psychological Effects of Bed Bug Attacks (Cimex lectularius L.)

Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology, Mississippi State University, MS 39762, USA.
The American journal of medicine (Impact Factor: 5). 01/2012; 125(1):101-3. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2011.08.010
Source: PubMed


In some individuals, psychological sequelae resulting from bed bug biting events include nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance (to keep the bugs away), insomnia, anxiety, avoidance behaviors, and personal dysfunction. These symptoms are suggestive of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
We used a previously published PTSD checklist to analyze online blogs and other Internet sites where bed bug postings occur to assess postings for evidence of emotional trauma.
One hundred thirty-five postings were read and analyzed, and 110 (81%) of those postings reported psychological effects from bed bug infestations. Scoring with the PTSD checklist revealed a range of 0-52 (mean 13.25; SD 9.38); one met the criteria (≥50) considered positive for PTSD.
Based upon our survey of online postings concerning such effects, an as-yet-to-be-determined proportion of individuals who experience bed bug bites develop moderate-to-severe negative emotional symptoms after infestations. These individuals should be identified in the course of their interactions with health professionals so that appropriate mental health care may be provided.

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    • "Chronic blood loss and iron deficiency anemia have also been reported in people who have been continuously exposed to severe bed bug infestations (Venkatachalam and Belavady, 1962; Pritchard and Hwang, 2009; Paulke-Korinek et al., 2012). Bed bugs can also cause psychological disorders because the presence of these insects in intimate places such as beds and bedrooms often creates anxiety, and people who are repeatedly bitten may develop nervous behavior, agitation, stress and sleeplessness (Hwang et al., 2005; Goddard and de Shazo, 2012; Susser et al., 2012). The adverse effects of bed bugs on humans have "
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    ABSTRACT: Many hematophagous arthropods are stimulated by blood constituents to initiate feeding. We used a membrane-based feeding system to identify chemicals that stimulate acceptance and engorgement responses in various life stages of bed bugs. Water was fortified with a variety of compounds (e.g. salts, amino acids, vitamins, nucleotides, cholesterol and fatty acids) in these bioassays. Adenosine triphosphate was the most effective phagostimulant in adults and nymphs, resulting in >70% of bed bugs fully engorging. Addition of NaCl to low ATP solutions that alone elicited <50% engorgement significantly enhanced feeding responses of bed bugs. A comparison of feeding responses with solutions of various adenine nucleotides showed that ATP was more stimulatory than ADP, which was more effective than AMP. Feeding assays with physiological levels of other blood constituents such as D-glucose, albumin, globulin, cholesterol and mixtures of vitamins and amino acids did not stimulate engorgement, suggesting that adenine nucleotides are the most important feeding stimulants in bed bugs. Identification of phagostimulants for bed bugs will contribute toward the development of artificial diets for rearing purposes as well as for the development of alternative methods to eliminate bed bug infestations.
    Journal of Experimental Biology 11/2013; 217(4). DOI:10.1242/jeb.096727 · 2.90 Impact Factor
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    • "Our report of an isolated case history, together with the published case series [4] and review of blogs and other internet sites [6], provides evidence that bed bugs are a severe stressor and can result in serious and life-threatening psychiatric consequences for those that are vulnerable. Given the recent surge in infestations in many different cities, rapid action needs to be taken not only in an attempt to control and eradicate the bed bugs but also to adequately care for the individuals affected. "
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    ABSTRACT: Male, 62. Bipolar disorder. Bordeline personality disorder. - Bed bug infestation. Psychiatry. Unusual clinical course. In the past decade, bed bug infestations have been increasingly common in high income countries. Psychological consequences of these infestations are rarely examined in the scientific literature. We present a case, based on a coroner's investigation report, of a woman with previous psychiatric morbidity who jumped to her death following repeated bed bug infestations in her apartment. Our case report shows that the bed bug infestations were the likely trigger for the onset a negative psychological state that ultimately led to suicide. Given the recent surge in infestations, rapid action needs to be taken not only in an attempt to control and eradicate the bed bugs but also to adequately care for those infested by bed bugs.
    American Journal of Case Reports 05/2013; 14:176-8. DOI:10.12659/AJCR.883926
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    • "It is possible that the ‘detachment’ of bed bugs from the daily life of humans has generated uncertainty of how to avoid a bed bug infestation and how to avoid in infestation becoming entrenched (see [19], [20] for examples). This uncertainty may cause or reinforce the fear of bed bugs and be a major contributor to the psychological stress reported by Goddard & deShazo [16]. By contrast, familiarity with an animal may reduce irrational feelings. "
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    ABSTRACT: Bed bugs appear to be feared more than vector insects and other household pests. The reasons for this exaggerated fear are not fully understood. One hypothesis is that the folk knowledge on recognising and controlling bed bugs decreased as bed bugs became rarer in the 1960s and led to irrational perceptions. Here, we examine people's ability to recognise a bed bug and their response what to do in case of an infestation. We found that 13% of a sample of 391 people in four large German cities recognised a bed bug; 15% of all respondents would call a pest controller in case of bed bug infestation. This results in the pessimistic estimate that 97% of all early-stage infestations could go untreated. We discuss additional scenarios. The effectiveness of efforts to educate people about the presence of bed bugs has never been tested, but our sample is useful to guide future studies. We found three sources of information were associated with increased recognition rates of bed bugs: a) previous contacts with bed bugs (60% recognition), b) knowledge from friends or relatives (25%) and school or education courses (15%). By contrast, people who heard of bed bugs from television, print media or the Internet showed reduced recognition rates. We propose that the former factors be tested for educational interventions. In Germany, the bed bug is an estranged creature to many people, a fact that seems to hinder rational approaches to their control.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e51083. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0051083 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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