Do bed bugs cause harm or spread disease?
Bed bugs seek out people and animals, generally at night while these hosts are asleep, and feed by piercing the skin. While feeding, they inject a tiny amount of their saliva into the skin to act as an anticoagulant. Repeated exposures to bed bug bites during a period of several weeks or more causes people to become sensitised to the saliva of these bugs; additional bites may then result in mild to intense allergic responses. The skin lesion produced by the bite of a bed bug resembles those caused by many other kinds of blood feeding insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas. The offending insect, therefore, can rarely be identified by the appearance of the bites. A doctor should be consulted to rule out other causes for the lesions and to offer treatment, as needed. The affected person should resist the urge to scratch the bites, as this may intensify the irritation and itching, and may lead to secondary infection. Bed bugs are not known to transmit any infectious agents.