Harvard Health Letter

In Brief: Buggy bedfellows

In Brief

Buggy bedfellows

You've probably heard about the return of bed bugs, those small, wingless bloodsucking insects that, as advertised, live around beds and like nothing more than a warmblooded companion to feed on at night.

Explanations for the comeback of Cimex lectularius include increased foreign travel, so bed bugs from overseas have more opportunities to hitch a ride into American homes on luggage and clothes of tourists. More limited use of pesticides may be another factor. "But these are just speculations," says Richard Pollack, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health and a bed bug expert. "Only the bedbugs know for sure — and they're not offering an explanation."

The good news is that bed bug bite is just a bite. In fact, usually people don't even notice bed bugs while they are feeding, according to Pollack. And unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs aren't known to spread disease-causing viruses or bacteria.

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