Is Bed Bug A Parasite?

In fact, the medical field distinguish between two types of parasites, the endoparasites and the ectoparasites. Endoparasites are the commonly known parasites including helminths and protozoan parasites. The strict definition of parasitic infections is usually restricted to the endoparasites, which are the parasites living inside the human body. The scientific community do not usually consider that ectoparasites cause a parasitic infection. They are rather known to cause a condition or an infestation. Ectoparasites, as their name imply, are living and feeding themselves outside the human body. This group is mainly composed of bloodsucking insects from the arthropod family, such as lice, fleas, mites and ticks. It is interesting to note that ectoparasites are susceptible to transmit many microorganisms while feeding on a human body. For example, it is the case of the blacklegged tick that is known to transmit some bacteria like Borrelia burgdorferi responsible for Lyme disease, as well as the protozoan parasites Babesia responsible for a disease called babesiosis.

As a matter of fact, bed bugs are a type of bloodsucking arthropods living on the skin of human or other animals and can then be considered as ectoparasites. It is interesting to note that their common name bed bugs refers to the fact that they like to hide themselves in warm bed and bedding. Furthermore, bed bugs seem to be more active during the night. The common bed bug affecting humans is currently known by its scientific name Cimex lectularius. It is known to cause skin rashes and some symptoms of allergy. Even though they are very annoying and hard to get rid of, bed bugs are not known at the moment to transmit microorganisms susceptible to cause an infection in human. In fact, studies have shown that they are susceptible to acquired human pathogens, but apparently failed to transmit them to their human host. However, it is not impossible that further research identify some human infections susceptible to be transmitted by bed bugs in the future.

Finally, if you think that your home is infested by bed bugs, the best thing to do is to call a pest-control company. They will confirm that you really have bed bugs in your home and will use some pesticide and non-pesticide methods in order to get rid of them. It is important to get rid of the bed bugs properly in order to prevent the reoccurrence of the symptoms caused by their biting. Treatment of bed bug bites is usually very simple. It is recommended to wash the bite sites with water and soap in order to prevent subsequent infection and reduce the itchiness. You can also ask your local drugstore to obtain an over-the-counter cream to put on the bites in order to help with the redness and itchiness. However, it is better to consult a doctor if you have signs that your bites are infected (by a discharge of pus for example), a lot of bite marks all over your body, blisters or signs of an allergic skin reaction, such as red and swollen skin. In these cases, medication could be prescribed in order to treat the infection, the allergic reaction or the excessive symptoms.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; The American Academy of Dermatology

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