I was happy to see the new CDC-EPA joint statement stressing that “Bed bugs cause a variety of negative physical health, mental health and economic consequences,” and outlining the challenges to bed bug control posed by:
- local health department resources and low prioritization of bed bugs,
- problems surrounding who is responsible for bed bug treatment,
- the limited treatment options for bed bugs (made worse by pesticide resistance), and
- pesticide misuse, and the health risks which go along with it.
The statement also outlines bed bug biology and integrated pest management (IPM) approaches to treatment, and (most importantly) summarizes the roles of the CDC, EPA and other government agencies in the fight against bed bugs.
The CDC role is outlined as follows:
CDC is partnering with experts in the areas of medicine, entomology, epidemiology and environmental toxicology to better understand the resurgence of bed bugs and the methods and tools that are needed for effective bed bug control. CDC will provide timely information on emerging trends in bed bug control with the goal of developing national strategies to reduce bed bug populations. CDC recognizes that very limited research has been conducted on bed bugs during the past several decades and encourages increased bed bug research to determine the causes of the resurgence, the most effective methods of control and the potential for bed bugs to transmit disease.
The EPA’s role is described as follows:
EPA is working to ensure that pest management professionals and the public have access to the latest information on effective bed bug control tools. EPA realizes that certain bed bug populations in communities across the nation are becoming increasingly resistant to many of the existing pesticides. EPA is actively working with industry and researchers to identify new compounds (or new uses of existing compounds) to control bed bugs. In addition, EPA is working to educate the general public, pest professionals, and public health officials about bed bug biology and IPM, which is critical to long-term bed bug control.
New compounds, and new uses of existing compounds? Bring it on. We’re waiting.
For any local governments and health departments that do not yet accept their role in fighting bed bugs, CDC makes it clear that
State, tribal, and local government agencies and health departments play a critical role in protecting the public from bed bugs. Public health departments serve on the front lines, providing information on prevention and control of bed bugs through various programs to the public and private sector.
The public, together with their local health agencies, must be involved in the control and management of bed bug populations and must be provided with the knowledge of best practices to prevent and control bed bug infestations.
The statement also includes a list of resources and references.
The CDC has previously provided limited information on bed bugs (notwithstanding the key study by Steven W. Hwang et. al. entitled “Bed Bug Infestations in an Urban Environment” [PDF], their website previously hosted only a very brief biological introduction to bed bug biology, and a set of pictorial keys for identifying biting bugs [PDF]).
It is therefore a very good thing that they have released this statement, and further clarified the role of US government agencies in the fight against bed bugs.