Study: Bedbugs Might Carry Superbug Bacteria
Some bedbugs could be carrying antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The blood-sucking pests have experienced a resurgence over the past decade, but scientists previously believed they could not spread infection. New research, however, identified bedbugs carrying the bacterial infection MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Scientists studied five bedbugs taken from patients at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, and found that three were carrying MRSA, while the other two had vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, or VRE, a less dangerous kind of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It's not clear whether the germs were transmitted from people to bedbugs, or the other way around, according to a study published Wednesday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It emphasizes the need for some further studies to determine the potential bedbugs have for transmitting these agents," Robert Wirtz, chief of entomology at the CDC's Center for Global Health, told The Washington Post. "While the work was well done and it shows an association, it doesn't establish that bedbugs are capable of transmitting the bacteria."
Attention Travelers: Is the Bedbug Threat Real?
Feel like snuggling up to a bedbug or two? Sightings are on the rise nationwide at homes, schools, and hotels and motels. Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Chicago are among the worst-hit cities, according to Terminix, the pest-control company. And entomologists say the number of bedbugs continues to increase each year worldwide, likely because of the longtime ban on DDT in many countries, resistance to current pesticides, and growth of international travel.
But are the tiny bloodsuckers as big a threat as media coverage suggests? The answer seems to be yes—and no. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an entomologist with the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University, has yet to spot a bedbug in a hotel room, but on two occasions entomologists she was traveling with encountered infestations. The risk "is very real," she says. "Everyone who travels needs to be aware and vigilant, because self-protection is important."
Late last year, a Michigan woman sued the swanky Waldorf-Astoria in New York for financial and emotional distress, claiming a bedbug attack during a May visit. According to her attorney, she suffered more than 100 bites and the bugs followed her to her Midwest home; the family had to move out for six weeks and paid $4,500 in extermination bills and thousands more for other cleaning costs. In a press statement, the hotel asserted that her room had been checked and pronounced bedbug-free. [Read more: Attention Travelers: Is the Bedbug Threat Real?]
4 Ways to Avoid MRSA Infections in Kids
Parents have good reason to be freaked out about MRSA, a microbe that causes nasty skin infections and is resistant to some antibiotics.
The CDC has ginned up guidelines aimed at helping parents prevent MRSA in kids, but good luck finding the practical advice on the CDC's website. U.S. News boiled it down to spare other parents from needless clicking.
Here are four actions you can take:
1. If your child has a booboo, put a bandage on it. MRSA is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact. Bandages protect broken skin from MRSA and also reduce the risk of spreading MRSA to family members and friends if a wound already is infected.
2. Wash your hands with soap and water, and don't be timid about nagging kids to wash their hands, too. Boring, but it works.
3. Discourage sharing of towels, razors, and other hygiene items, which are often implicated in MRSA outbreaks. That's one reason MRSA outbreaks have been more common in school athletic teams. This could be the best way ever to scare boys off towel-snapping! Also, tell kids not to share clothes or other personal items. [Read more: 4 Ways to Avoid MRSA Infections in Kids.]