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Can Bed Bugs Make You Sick?

September 22, 2010, 5:12 PM by Kelli Grant

Can Bed Bugs Make You Sick?
SIOUX FALLS, SD - It's something everyone's talking about and looking for: bed bugs.  And, yes, they are in South Dakota.  

They bite, it itches and the bugs can infest a bed and any furniture around it. But will they make you sick?

The good news is bed bugs do not carry disease that can be transmitted to humans. The bad news: they can still make you sick.

LuAnn Ford, Public Health Manager with the Sioux Falls Health Department, says the bugs won't cause things like fever or body aches. But because the bites can hurt and itch, they can drive you crazy.

“It is a nuisance. It's an annoyance. And when they bite, they bite and it hurts and it itches. And actually that can make a person sick right there, either an allergic reaction or from the scratching can cause infection,” Ford said. 

Bed bugs don't live on people.  They nest elsewhere and are attracted to warm blooded creatures, like humans, to feed. They're also attracted to the carbon dioxide humans give off when we breathe. And they like to live in creases, like the piping on your mattress, even the corners of furniture like your bed frame or night stand.

“There is an increase across the country. And as these things travel across the country, they do eventually hit our community. I would not worry; I would not be scared.  I would be aware,” Ford said.

Ford says she gets around 10 calls a year reporting bed bugs at local hotels. She then must do an inspection, but says often times, the facility is already aware of the problem and an exterminator is working to get rid of the bugs.

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