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Description:This scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed on the ventral surface of a bedbug’s, Cimex lectularius, head and thorax. Note the anatomical relationships of the insect’s skin piercing mouthparts that it uses to obtain its blood meal.

Clinical Features:

Although bedbugs have been found naturally-infected with blood-borne pathogens, they are not effective vectors of disease. The primary medical importance is inflammation associated with their bites (due to allergic reactions to components in their saliva).

Laboratory Diagnosis:

The inflammatory reaction to the bites is not diagnostic, and confirmation of a bedbug bite is best achieved by identification of adults or nymphs collected in sheltered areas near where the patient was bitten. Bedbugs possess stink glands and emit a distinctive odor; homes or motel/hotel rooms with heavy infestations may have this odor.

Bedbug bites are usually self-limiting, and require little attention other than antiseptic creams or lotions to prevent infection at the bite site. Efforts should be made to eliminate the source of the bedbugs in their sheltered locations. Insecticide treatments are usually effective, but care should be taken, as people may have prolonged contact with treated areas (beds, couches, etc). Professional pest control is recommended as over-the-counter pesticides are usually ineffective. Local environmental health officials should be contacted regarding control efforts in public places (hotels, motels, etc).

High Resolution: Click here for hi-resolution image (5.5 MB)
Content Providers(s):CDC/ Janice Haney Carr
Creation Date:2009
Photo Credit:Janice Haney Carr
Links:CDC – Hwang SW, Svoboda TJ, De Jong IJ, Kabasele KJ, Gogosis E., “Bed Bug Infestations in an Urban Environment”, Emerg Infect Dis, 2005 Apr
CDC – Div. of Parasitic Diseases (DPDx); Bed Bugs, Cimex lectularius
CDC Organization
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Copyright Restrictions:None - This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.