TUESDAY, July 28, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Bedbugs don’t just infect your sheets and pillows: New research shows they can also alter the germs in your home’s dust.
“There is a link between the microbiome of bed bugs and the microbiome of household dust in bug-infested homes,” said study author Coby Schal, professor of entomology at North Carolina State University.
“No previous study has reported the effects of chronic pest infestation on microbial diversity in indoor spaces,” stated Schal in a press release from the university.
In the study, scientists looked at the bacterial communities (microbiomes) of dust in 19 units of an apartment complex in Raleigh, NC that were infested with bed bugs and compared them to 11 units with no bugs.
Seven of the 19 infected units were heat treated to clear the bugs after the first samples were taken and the other 12 units were treated after one month. All 19 affected units were examined for four months.
The researchers found that bug-infested homes had different dust microbiomes than those that weren’t infested. But once bedbugs were cleared, dust microbiomes in previously infested homes became more similar to those in homes that had never been infested with bugs.
The study was recently published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
“Getting rid of the bedbugs resulted in a gradual shift in microbial communities in native communities towards uninfected homes,” said Madhavi Kakumanu, co-author of the study, a researcher in Shawl’s laboratory.
“This paper is the first experimental demonstration that eliminating a pest indoors alters the microbiome indoors compared to that in uninfected homes,” Kakumanu said in the press release.
“Bedbugs are problematic in many households in both industrialized and developing countries,” said Schal. “There is an urgent need to study the infestation from an indoor climate quality perspective, and this paper is a first step in that direction.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is more concerned with bed bugs.