Bed bugs are horrible things. For a long time their presence petered out in both the UK and the US but then during the late 2000s they suddenly made a horrible reappearance. In New York the number of reported cases went from 400 in 2004 to 10,000 in 2010 and the number has been rising ever since. It doesn’t help the little buggers can hide just about anywhere, including clothing, sheets, mattresses, sofas, curtains, hair nets, and (worst of all) seats in cinemas, planes, theatres and cars. Yup, you heard that right. You can catch bed bugs from a cinema seat.
One of the central experiences of bed bug infestations is that the little bastards itch like hell. This is because of a type of chemical known as histamines. Histamines prompt a reaction from your immune system and are involved in hayfever, allergies, and the general itch response. Most of the time your body produces histamines as a response to things like dust or pollen. Bed bugs, however, have the magical power to literally sh*t the stuff out.
That’s right. Bed bugs crap pure, raw, itch powder.
Scientists however, are really interested in how the most popular bed bug treatment interacts with these histamines. You see, bed bugs are immune to most insecticides to a common way to deal with them involves using very hot air. It turns out that heat-treatments, which involve blasting air heated to 50 degrees Celsius into the apartment, just throws the histamines up and around into the air. This means the contaminant is just distributed around an apartment, making it much worse. This helps explain why so many people continue to experience horrible symptoms despite having the bed bugs successfully treated.
Also, you know, you’re literally breathing bed bug sh*t for weeks afterwards. So that sucks.
Generally bed bugs have always been seen as incredibly annoying but otherwise harmless. But such a notion will now be challenged. Scientists investigating bed bugs are certain that the massive upheaval of bed bug poop into the air would likely cause horrific complications for people with asthma, eczema, and other allergy related conditions. In other words, inhaling bug crap is probably bad for your health, and will be the next focus of curious scientists who want to make the world a less itchy place.
We salute you, you bug-poop covered heroes.