The common bed bug, is a bloodsucking parasite of man. They tend not to live on humans and their only contact is for the blood meal. Most blood feeding occurs at night, and they generally seek shelter during the day and become inactive while digesting the blood meal. Bed bugs shelter in a variety of dark locations, mostly close to where people sleep. These include under mattresses, floorboards, carpets, behind paintings, skirting, in various cracks and crevices of walls, within bed frames and other furniture, and behind loose wallpaper.
Bed bugs tend to stay in close contact with each other and heavy infestations are accompanied by a distinctive sweet sickly smell. Blood spotting on mattresses and nearby furnishings is often a tell tale sign of an infestation. The bugs apparently locate the host by detecting warmth and carbon dioxide. The bite itself is said to be painless, however the deposition of saliva on the abraded epidermis results in localized wheals or hives. Reactions to the bites may be delayed up to 9 days before lesions appear. Common areas of the body that are affected involve the arms and shoulders.
A bedbug can individually and collectively cause a number of health effects including skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. Bedbug bites or cimicosis may lead to a range of skin manifestations from no visible effects to prominent blisters. Diagnosis involves both finding bedbugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Treatment involves the elimination of the insect but is otherwise symptomatic.
Because infestation of human habitats has been on the increase in developed countries, bedbug bites and related conditions have been on the rise as well, since the 1980s-1990s. The exact causes of this resurgence remain unclear; it is variously ascribed to greater foreign travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings among homes, a greater focus on control of other pests resulting in neglect of bedbug countermeasures, and increasing resistance to pesticides. Bedbugs have been known human parasites for thousands of years.
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