NMSU Research: Bed Bugs Can Transmit Chagas Disease Pathogen

NMSU Research: Bed Bugs Can Transmit Chagas Disease Pathogen

Bed bugs are capable of hosting the pathogen that causes Chagas disease for up to 97 days, new research shows.

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February 2, 2018
Edited by the PCT Staff

As reported by Entomology Today, new research from New Mexico State University shows that bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are capable of hosting the pathogen that causes Chagas disease for up to 97 days, and the pathogen can persist even through the bed bug’s molting process between one nymphal stage and the next.

New Mexico State University researchers have investigated the ability of bed bugs to carry Trypanosoma cruzi, the protozoan that causes Chagas disease, and report their findings in a new article published Friday in the Journal of Medical Entomology. In a lab experiment, the researchers found that nearly all bed bugs they fed with T. cruzi-infected blood later showed live forms of the pathogen in their guts and that T. cruzi frequently survived through its hosts’ molting.

That latter finding, known as transstadial persistence, is notable because bed bug nymphs typically molt after each blood meal, which they do five times before reaching their adult stage, says Alvaro Romero, Ph.D., assistant professor of urban entomology at NMSU and senior researcher on the study. “If T. cruzi could not persist throughout the molting process, nymphs would be less effective as vectors since they would have to feed on an infected host to reacquire the parasite in their guts after each molting," says Romero.

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Source: Entomology Today