(Photo by Brooke Borel)
A Pill A Day Keeps The Bedbugs Away?
A New Weapon For Battling Bedbugs?
New studies suggest that a bedbug will die shortly after having a blood meal from someone who has taken the drug Stromectol. Many are finding this news refreshing as bedbug infestations are growing at exponential ratesâ€”some reports say as rates have risen as much as 75% from this same time last year.
Researchers hope that taking the Stromectol pill, along with conventional pesticide measures, will eradicate a bedbug infestation.
Stromectol, produced by Merck & Company (MRK), is also made with the drug ivermectin. It is typically used to combat parasitic worms. Doctors usually prescribe Stromectol to help treat lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), and river blindness caused by worm parasites.
Ivermectin has also been found successful in the treating of body lice, head lice, scabies, and now bedbugs.
Popular Science and Bloomberg both report that Eastern Virginia Medical School researchers ran three different experiments on groups of bedbugs. The groups included both adult bedbugs, as well as young bedbugs in their third and fourth growth stages. Different groups of bugs were fed ivermectin-laced mouse blood through an artificial membrane, directly from mice that had been injected with ivermectin. Bedbugs also fed on four people that had taken the drug orally.
In both the human and mouse trials, the drug killed most of the bed bugs in varying degrees. The bedbugs that didn’t die were unable to molt and reproduce.
Bedbug Pill Obstacles
The promise of eliminating bedbugs by simply taking a pill seems promising, but there are still many obstacles left to hurdle.
First, bedbugs still have to bite a victim and feed on their blood in order to digest the ivermectin. Most people would prefer traditional pest control methods, over being bit continually. Bedbugs would have to bring our society to its knees before people start entertaining that approach.
Second, bedbugs only come out of hiding about once a week to feed. To guarantee every bedbug gets a dose of ivermectin, someone would have to take the drug for a couple of weeks. Even then, every single bedbug in the infestation may not be exposed to the drug.
Finally, in order for the FDA to approve a drug for us to use, it first must be subjected to hundreds if not thousands of tests to collect important data. Years of human and animal trials will be needed before the new drug is deemed safe for human usage.
Bedbugs are nocturnal blood feeders and crawl onto sleeping human hosts to feed. They feed by piercing the skin with an elongated beak through which they withdraw blood. Engorgement takes about three to ten minutes. Bed bugs are very resilient and adults can survive for more than one year without eating.
Bedbugs are flat, except when they are engorged with blood, and are reddish- brown in color. They look much like an apple seed. Bedbugs do not fly, but can move quickly over floors, walls, ceilings and other surfaces.
Until bedbug technology improves, traditional pest control methods are still our best resource for combating these blood-sucking bugs.