An article in the Winnipeg Free Press showcases a new study by seven Canadian public health experts and physicians, which suggests bed bugs can and should be considered a public health threat, even though they are not known to transmit disease.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press:
“Because bedbugs have not been proven to transmit disease between humans, there is resistance to framing their resurgence as a public-health threat,” write the seven co-authors of a paper that appeared in the November/December 2012 edition of the Canadian Journal of Public Health.
“We make the case that framing the bedbug problem as a public-health threat is key to the implementation of effective strategies to its management — especially for vulnerable populations.”
The article “Bed Bugs and Public Health: New Approaches for an Old Scourge” (see the abstract) appeared in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, and examines the way four Canadian cities have dealt with bed bugs: Toronto (where public health takes the lead), and Winnipeg, Montreal and Vancouver (where public health plays a “supporting or secondary” role).
The study, “Bed Bugs and Public Health: New Approaches for an Old Scourge,” concludes:
“Although there have been no known cases of disease transmission, bed bugs can cause severe reactions, secondary infections, and severe stress that impact health – especially for vulnerable populations. Canadian city public health agencies can consider bed bugs a public health threat, support legislation around pest control and responsibilities of tenants and owners, and conduct or encourage surveillance and evaluation activities. By working with the public, owners, tenants, the health sector and other stakeholders, public health practitioners can begin to curb the resurgence of bed bugs and the accompanying personal scars and social strains.”
We’ve often been told bed bugs aren’t classified as a public health threat because they are not known to spread disease.
Labeling bed bugs a public health threat — and clearly, they have a very real negative impact on health for many people — may allow Canadian public health agencies to better fight this problem.
Let’s see if this idea gains momentum in Canada and elsewhere.
I think it’s a good one. How about you?
Hit the comments below!
“Bed Bugs and Public Health: New Approaches for an Old Scourge.” Mona Shum, Elizabeth Comack, Taz Stuart, Reg Ayre, Stéphane Perron, Shelley A. Beaudet, Tom Kosatsky. Can J Pubik Health 2012;103(6): 399-403.