Bedbugs in the 21st century: The reemergence of an old foe

Katelyn Williams, Monte S. Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Bedbugs are small parasites that feed exclusively on blood from vertebrates, including humans. Attention to these parasites largely disappeared until the past decade, when their incidence grew sharply due to increased international travel, use of less-effective insecticides, and growing insecticide resistance among bedbugs. Bedbugs can be found virtually anywhere, including homes, offices, hotels, and hospitals. They are a severe nuisance and have a real psychological and financial impact on those infested; however, their medical importance is limited. Although more than 40 infectious diseases may be transmitted by bedbugs, actual transmission of any of those diseases has not been proven to date. This review presents the biological characteristics of Cimex lectularius and C. hemipterus, the public health risks of those parasites, and countermeasures to identify and treat infestations. The goal is to put news-media accounts of bedbugs into the proper context of our current scientific understanding of their characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-148
Number of pages8
JournalLaboratory Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 26 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • AP infectious disease
  • Clinical pathology
  • Microbiology
  • Virology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical

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