By Andrea Downey, Digital Health Reporter
BEDBUGS are a nasty pest that no one wants in their house.
But even when they are gone they leave traces behind that can cause allergic reactions and even asthma attacks, new research suggest.
Not only do the creepy crawlies bite you while you’re sleeping, they also poop in your bed.
It’s that poop that causes problems long after pest control has been.
The poo is loaded with histamine, a chemical found naturally in your body during allergic reactions.
It is histamine that causes your runny nose, itchy eyes, sneezing and trouble breathing.
The chemical can also cause nasty rashes to appear on your skin and is particularly dangerous for those with underlying lung conditions like asthma because it causes an inflammatory response in your airways.
This can trigger potentially deadly asthma attacks if people are exposed to the chemical.
According to a new study from North Carolina State University histamine levels in bedbug infested homes were at least 20 times higher than in homes that were bug free.
And the levels continue to pose a problem for months after the bedbugs have been booted out.
In homes that were treated for the pests ,which involves circulating air as hot as 50C through the home, levels remained high.
“The intimate association of bed bugs with humans and the spatial distribution and persistence of histamine in homes suggest that histamine may represent an emergent indoor environmental contaminant whose impact on human health should be investigated,” the authors wrote.
“Bed bugs have become a major social, economic, and health problem since their global resurgence in the early 2000s.
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“Infestations can reach exceedingly high levels, especially among the elderly and in disadvantaged communities, where interventions may be unaffordable.
“While bed bug bites have been recognised as a dermatological concern that can be exacerbated and lead to secondary infections, bed bugs have not been implicated as disease vectors or allergen producers.
“The results of this study demonstrate that the presence of bed bugs strongly correlates with histamine levels in homes, and thus may adversely affect the health of residents through exposure to exogenous histamine.”
Experts tested 30 apartments in North Carolina as part of the study, some of which were currently infested, some had never been affected and some were treated for bedbugs recently.
The study was published in the journal PLOS One.