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March 2013

Effects of Bed Bug Saliva on Human Skin

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology, and Plant Pathology, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State.

JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(3):372-373. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.878

Bed bug infestations are increasing in scope, frequency, and geographic distribution worldwide, and bed bug bites should be included in the differential diagnosis in cases of unexplained or cryptic insect bites and anaphylactoid reactions.1-4 Some patients apparently develop sensitivity to bed bug bites, while others do not.5,6 The nature, type, and location of allergens in bed bugs causing dermatologic reactions in humans have not been elucidated. Presumably, bed bug allergens are located in the saliva. With appropriate institutional review board approval, we tested that hypothesis, feeding bed bugs, both with and without intact salivary glands, on a volunteer known to react to the bites.