Bed bugs are a problem in many countries, affecting many aspects of everyday life. They are most commonly associated with homes and hospitality groups, but they are increasingly turning up in unexpected places, including hospitals and fire stations. They have even forced homeless people back onto the streets and have closed shopping malls. During recent years, bed bugs have caused more than 180 cities to close their doors, resulting in more than 271 million people being affected by an infestation. They have also forced the evacuation of college dorms and grounded airplane seats.
Despite the negative effects of bed bugs on health, some research indicates that an infestation can also affect a person’s social life. For example, a Denver, CO library recently banned a patron who brought bedbugs into the building. The library also publicly named the patron. Many people in the US are also wary of dating someone who has bed bugs. In fact, 56% of people would abandon a date if they discovered they had bedbug bites.
The resurgence of bedbug infestations has led to calls for more research on their potential to transmit disease. Despite their lack of a proven link between bed bugs and disease, the likelihood of transmission is thought to be low. Still, denying their presence as a public health pest would be denial of the intense psychological and physical suffering they cause to people.