31st August

Could Bed Bugs Spread Lyme Disease?

by Roland | Posted in Health Risks   No Comments »

On website MDJunction.com, one visitor to Hawaii believes they contracted a Lyme-like illness from bed bug bites.

Blood feeding insects have been known to pass on Lyme Disease and instances of testing positive after "bed bug bites" continue to pop up.

Could bed bugs pass on infections like Lyme disease?

We’ve already written about how bed bugs have now been proven to spread disease – but this recent story from Hawaii surprised even us. A report from MDJunction member “Nauni”, covered what she believed was infection with Lyme disease following bed bug bites.

She writes: “The day we flew home from our wedding/honeymoon, I noticed bites all over my legs. At first I thought they were mosquito bites, but my son-in-law who lives in Hawaii said the pattern on my legs sounded more like bed bugs.”

“It took weeks for them to go away and I became extremely fatigued, I could barely lift my legs to walk and keep my eyes open. Then one morning I woke to the bottom of my feet feeling like they had been beaten with a hammer! I was in so much pain I went to stand up and I cried out in agony.”

“For several months they could not figure out what was causing the pain. Nothing, not even narcotics, made it go away. I could barely walk down our stairs.”

“I had night sweats, and my hands went numb. Then the pain in my feet moved to my shin bones and stayed for weeks – then it moved to my femurs again, as if my femurs had a hammer taken to them.”

“I couldn’t hold a book to read for more than five minutes before my hands would start hurting and going numb. I now have headaches like I have never experienced before. Usually one side, but my eye, ear and occipital is effected.”

Nauni was tested for Lyme disease by her doctor, but the test came up negative – which is actually unsurprising as Lyme disease tests can give a false negative in as many as 30% of cases. The doctor did confirm, however, that her symptoms matched Lyme disease, or an auto immune condition.

As far as she knows, she’s never been bitten by a tick – and Hawaii is the one state that is (apparently) free of ticks carrying Lyme disease. So could she have been infected by bed bugs?

While experts would argue the chances are slim, it’s could be theoretically possible. Bed bugs, after all, drink blood and the way ticks infect people with Lyme disease is through blood feeding as well.

However, tick control experts know that some blood-feeding insects – even some species of tick – are unable to support the Lyme-causing borrelia burgdorferi bacterium in their stomachs; so it’s likely that bed bugs might have a similar means of limiting disease transmission.

In any event, it highlights the growing awareness of health issues bed bugs could be spreading – and while medical professionals still downplay concerns that bed bugs could pass on communicable diseases, it’s worth remembering that many health professionals said similar things about Lyme disease a few years ago as well.


Tags: bed bug bites, health risks, lyme disease