Bedbugs. The very word can make any person feel itchy, and now it might start sending chills down your spine too. Researchers in Canada have recently found bedbugs that had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA.
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics. Symptoms of MRSA include skin abscesses. The illness can also spread into the blood, causing life-threatening illnesses.
There is no need to panic yet, however. The researchers found that MRSA was present on the bacteria, but have not shown that the bugs are actually transmitting the disease. Furthermore, the study took place in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a poor neighborhood where MRSA cases have been plentiful.
Plus, MRSA is actually found on many common objects. Airplane tray tables are one example, reports Time Magazine. If bedbugs are shown to be simply "carrying" them like any other object, the health risks are less severe. But, if bedbugs are found to actually have strains of MRSA growing inside of them, the risks are higher.
The study was also focused in nature, and requires more refinement. So far there have been no reported cases showing that someone actually contracted MRSA bacteria from the bedbugs, reports Time Magazine.
For some, the notion that insects, and bedbugs, are potential disease transmitters is not exactly novel. "Bedbugs have long been suspected to have the ability to mechanically transmit bacteria from one host to another. The results of this study shed more light on this being a possibility, but additional research needs to be conducted to understand the true impact of these findings," says Jeffrey White, a research entomologist with BedBug Central, and Dr. David Goldberg, a specialist in infectious diseases at White Plains Hospital, according to Fox New York.
To protect against potential disease and bedbug infestations, being cautious is key. Checking the Bedbug Registry can alert you to public places that have had reported bedbug infestations. Also, it wouldn't hurt to check mattresses before you lay down to see if there are any visible vermin.