Though generally regarded as a nuisance or irritant pest, the common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) is known to be capable of harboring more than 40 human disease-causing pathogens. It’s the transmission back to humans that bed bugs seem not to be as good at as some of their other blood-feeding cousins. But entomologists have some evidence that bed bug feces can be a channel for disease transmission, so it’s wise to study which pathogens bed bugs can carry and just how well those pathogens can survive within them.
To that end, bed bug researchers at New Mexico State University have investigated the ability of bed bugs to carry Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan that causes Chagas disease, and report their findings in a new article published Friday in the Journal of Medical Entomology. In a lab experiment, the researchers found that nearly all bed bugs they fed with T. cruzi-infected blood later showed live forms of the pathogen in their guts and that T. cruzi frequently survived through its hosts’ molting.
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