Becoming a victim of a bed bug infestation is certainly devastating, but the public can rest easy knowing that these pests are not known to transmit any diseases. While it is true that some pathogens have been detected in and on bed bugs including hepatitis B, and exotic organisms such as Trypanosoma cruzi (cause of Chagas Disease, rarely found in the United States) or Wolbachia species, unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs have not been associated with disease transmission.
Bed bug bites do not typically require treatment. It is best to clean the bite site(s) with soap and water and avoid scratching so as to prevent secondary infection. Progressive swelling, warmth, tenderness and sometimes (albeit rarely) fever may be signs of secondary infection, which should be managed with antibiotics as appropriate. Much more common are complaints of itching. For how to treat bed bug bites that cause severe itching, topical steroid creams or oral antihistamines may offer relief from itching and thus decrease the risk of infecting the bite site.
One bed bug will usually take more than one bite. Once a bed bug inserts its mouthparts and finds a suitable blood vessel, it will begin feeding. However, finding the right blood vessel may take more than one injection into the skin. In addition, bed bugs are very sensitive to movement by the host they are feeding on. Therefore, if a sleeping person moves, a feeding bed bug will probably withdraw its mouthparts and begin its search for a blood meal on another part of the body. It’s important to remember that the number of bites a person receives is not indicative of the number of bed bugs that feed on that person.