Cimex lectularius

Cimex lectularius

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

The bed bug, Cimex lectularius, is a common bloodsucking parasite in temperate and subtropical climates that attacks humans, poultry, and other mammals. Although they have not been linked to transmission of any disease, they have been shown to harbor the causative organisms of plague, relapsing fever, tularemia, Q fever, and hepatitis B.

Dwellings can become infested with Cimex lectularius in a variety of ways, such as:

    Bugs and eggs inadvertently brought in from other infested dwellings by visiting pets a visiting person's clothing or luggage.

  • Infested items (such as furniture, clothing, or backpacks) brought in.

  • Nearby dwellings or infested items, if easy routes are available for travel (through duct work or false ceilings).

  • Wild animals (such as bats or birds) that may also harbor bed bugs or related species such as the bat bug.

  • People or pets visiting an infested area (apartment, subway, movie theatre, or hotel) and carrying the bugs to another area on their clothing, luggage, or bodies.

The transmission of hepatitis is theoretically possible by contamination from crushing the bug, contamination from infected feces, or from regurgitation during the bite. Transmission of trypanosomes has been demonstrated for bats.

The exact incidence is unknown.

RESEARCH: For decades, this parasite has been used as an experimental model, representing arthropods, to detect ectoparasite activities of different drugs tested. The need for an inexpensive production of large numbers of this species at synchronized ages for infection and life-cycle studies, as well as for conducting screenings of insecticides for control purposes, led us to develop an effective and standardized artificial membrane blood-feeding method that could feed all five instars. The use of in vitro feeding techniques for the mass rearing and maintenance of ectoparasites has major advantages in terms of convenience, productivity and financial expenditure over alternative in vivo procedures.

Cimex lectularius


The type of reaction provoked depends on previous exposure; repeated bites may lead to an allergic reaction, which may lead to pronounced cutaneous manifestations. Some patients show a severe systemic hypersensitivity to arthropod allergens. The site of the bite can also become secondarily infected with bacteria infection and lead to ecthyma, cellulites, and/or lymphangitis.

Although these insects usually cause mild cutaneous reactions, more severe responses, including anaphylaxis, may occur.Bullae may be noted. Skin responses at bite sites may evolve from immediate, pruritic, edematous macules into bullae within 24 hours.


The diagnosis is usually considered on the basis of the clinical history and occasionally established when the insect was found and its identity confirmed.The histopathological findings are similar to that of many other insect and arthropod bite reactions.Typically, there is a perivascular infiltrate of lymphocytes, histiocytes, eosinophils, and mast cells within the upper dermis.


Eradication of Cimex lectularius frequently requires a combination of pesticide and nonpesticide approaches. Pesticides that have historically been found to be effective include: pyrethroids, dichlorvos and malathion.

Resistance to pesticides has increased significantly over time and negative health effects from their use are of concern.

Mechanical approaches, such as vacuuming up the insects and heat treating or wrapping mattresses, have been recommended. A combination of heat and drying treatments have been found to be most effective. For public health reasons, individuals are encouraged to call a professional pest control service to eradicate Cimex lectularius in a home, rather than attempting to do it themselves, particularly if they live in a multi-family building.

The carbamate insecticide propoxur is highly toxic to bed bugs, but in the United States the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has been reluctant to approve such an indoor use because of its potential toxicity to children after chronic exposure.

Although occasionally applied as a safe indoor pesticide treatment for other insects, boric acid is ineffectual against Cimex lectularius. The fungus Beauveria bassiana is being researched for its ability to control Cimex lectularius.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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