Four health risks linked to bed bugs after threat of infestation in UK

Bed bugs expert reveals how to spot signs of infestation

With reports of bed bug sightings on the London underground, commuters are understandably experiencing heightened levels of anxiety.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called the prospect of the pesky insects on the capital’s public transport network “a real cause of concern”.

The apparent sightings of bed bugs were claimed to occur on the Victoria line as well as on trains in the north of England.

The pest outbreak first emerged in Paris two weeks ago, with experts blaming frequent travel between the French and English capital for the alleged bed bug sightings in the UK.

Apart from itchy bites, a doctor has warned that the small bugs could spell bad news for your overall health.

READ MORE ‘I’m a pharmacist – these are three things to do if you’re bitten by bed bugs’

While the insects are not known to transmit diseases to humans, there are “several” health risks they do pose, Dr Chun Tang, Medical Director and GP at Pall Mall Medical, explained.

1. Allergic reactions

Some people may experience allergic reactions to bed bug bites, which can trigger uncomfortable symptoms such as redness, swelling, and severe itching at the bite sites. 

“In rare cases, these allergic reactions can be more severe and require medical attention,” the GP said.

2. Secondary skin infections

Scratching the bites from the reddish-brown insects can lead to open sores or breaks in the skin, hiking your risk of bacterial infections.

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Tang said: “If you develop signs of infection (e.g., increased pain, redness, pus), it’s important to seek medical treatment promptly.”

3. Anaemia

While this is rare, the doctor shared that prolonged bed bug infestations in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or people with weakened immune systems, could lead to a lower number of red blood cells.

Dr Tang shared that the loss of blood from multiple bites can pave the way for this blood disorder.

4. Disrupted sleep patterns

Bed bugs mainly attack and feed on their hosts at night when they are asleep.

This means that the nasty biters could disrupt your sleep pattern, resulting in bouts of fatigue the next day, the doctor explained.

Because of these health problems, the doctor shared it’s crucial to address bed bug infestation “promptly” and contact a pest control professional.

Dr Tang added: “Do not attempt to treat a bed bug infestation on your own, as DIY methods are often ineffective and can make the problem worse. 

“If you suspect you have bed bugs, consult with a pest control expert for proper diagnosis and treatment.”

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