Food and Recipes
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Residents of an impoverished area of Vancouver were infested with bed bugs carrying antibiotic-resistant bacteria, said researchers today Wednesday May 11th, 2011, and warn doctors to watch out for the potential problem.
A letter in todays issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases reported that two types of drug-resistant bacteria were isolated from bedbugs found on three patients.
The resistant bacteria were methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VRE), a less dangerous form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Christopher Lowe of the University of Toronto and medical microbiologist Marc Romney of Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital suggest bed bugs carrying MRSA could transmit the bacteria during a blood meal. Included is a citation to the full article which is being released in June, here:
“Because of the insect’s ability to compromise the skin integrity of its host, and the propensity for S. aureus to invade damaged skin, bedbugs may serve to amplify MRSA infections in impoverished urban communities,” Lowe and Romney write. The three patients lived in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, which has high rates of homelessness, poverty, HIV/AIDS and injection drug use.
Similar to other cities worldwide, Vancouver has seen an alarming increase in bedbugs, particularly in Downtown Eastside, where 31 per cent of residents have reported infestations, the researchers said.
Likewise, MRSA is also a substantial problem in the neighbourhood, with nearly 55 per cent of skin and soft tissue infections in patients treated at St. Paul’s emergency department showing MRSA, the authors said.
In drug injection users with wound infections, an earlier study showed 43 per cent were colonized or infected with a community-acquired MRSA strain found outside of hospitals.
The study was small with just five bedbugs and very preliminary, but “it’s an intriguing finding” that needs to be further researched, said Romney.
Both resistant strains are often seen in hospitals, and experts have been far more concerned about nurses and other health-care workers spreading the bacteria than insects.
Given the high prevalence of MRSA in hotels and rooming houses in Downtown Eastside, the insects may act as “a hidden environmental reservoir for MRSA and may promote the spread of MRSA in impoverished and overcrowded communities,” the authors said.
So: This could be sticky but is it currently significant?
The authors point out that several research groups have tried in the past to link bedbugs and disease transmission (hepatitis) and failed. They certainly have not proven transmission in this case. But they also say that there is a density of these two organisms in the area where the men live that make it more likely that bedbugs could be involved in diseases pingponging through the neighborhood. First, there’s the high density of bedbug presence, in 31 percent of Downtown Eastside residents. Second, there’s the high prevalence of MRSA, in 58 percent of the skin infections in the St. Paul’s ER. And third, there’s the previously recorded and persistent presence of VRE in in-patients at St. Paul’s.
The US CDC believes that crowding, poor hygiene and skin disruption increase the likelihood of MRSA infection; crowding and poor hygiene are common in homelessness and shelter living, and bedbugs by definition disrupt the skin’s barrier by their bites. Meanwhile, in the ill and hospitalized, VRE frequently causes infections in disrupted skin, such as a surgical incision or a diabetic ulcer.
The authors have commented:
“…These insects may act as a hidden environmental reservoir for MRSA and may promote the spread of MRSA in impoverished and overcrowded communities. Bedbugs carrying MRSA and/or VRE may have the potential to act as vectors for transmission.”
To be clear: The victims here are also the ones who are likely to be most at risk. What this paper says, first of all, is that the substandard living conditions of being poor and homeless make those who are poor and homeless more likely to be vulnerable to yet more dangerous and difficult diseases. As with so many other health disparities in North American society, this is a social justice issue.
But if I am candid, it is also a reminder to the more-privileged rest of us that bedbugs have spread explosively, especially in poor communities, in a manner that is not completely understood, and that they pose a disease-transmission risk that is not yet well-defined.
We can assure you there will be more bed bugs to come and in the mean time I am going to check my box spring…
We fight the small sugar ants very often, and as eco-friendly operators, we rarely spray poison for these little guys because it alone doesn’t work!! Fortunately, we have a few other things that do.
Ant baits are a kind of poison that these ants take back to the nest. In most cases these method’s are not 100% environmentally friendly, but provided the the poison can be kept in good area’s that are close to monitoring (discreet locations: away from water, pets and where they are most effective: inside the ants). This area’s includes areas where kids won’t find them: behind the washer and dryer, for example because ants will most likely go where kids, pets and potential predators can’t. On your own you can search the Internet for boric acid bait recipes or, for not a lot of money we can solve your problem a lot easier and effectively. We do not recommend buying the tiny tin ant baits from home hardware type stores. In the end you will more than likely spend a similar amount to what a professional charges.
Here is a brief take on types, and how to get rid of Sugar Ants:
1) Pavement Ants: Sweet boric acid based ant baits should do the trick for pavement ants over a period of 7-10 days depending on the size of colony and a few other factors. The pavement ant is the most common sugar ant to invade local home and businesses in the area as well as across North America. In different continents sugar ants have different behaviors and the species in Australia where ants, spiders, and termites are in huge numbers pavement ants are amongst the largest insect species known. This being said, you may be familiar with these tiny dark little pavement ants excreting small mounds in the sand near sidewalks, driveways, and sides of buildings. Above is a picture:
2) Pharaoh Ants: Sweet baits, again, should suffice as proper ant control. This ant is particularly obnoxious because of its persistence in getting what it wants, and it will eat just about anything: sugars, proteins, you name it. In some instances, these ants are found in hospitals where sterilization standards are not good. The Pharaoh Ant is often blamed for transferring dangerous bacteria like Staphylococcus and Psuedomonas, according to different medical offices. Again sweet baits placed near trails or high ant traffic areas are the most efficient form of control.
3) Argentine Ants: A combination of protein-based and sweet baits may be effective ant control. It is believed argentine ants were accidentally imported by coffee shipments to New Orleans circa 1891. These little feisty critters have since been destroying North America’s environmental and ecological balance by killing off native ant species, thereby starving the natural predators of these species. They also form a symbiotic relationship with aphids (a common garden pest), tending to and even transporting aphids in return for the sweet secretions the aphids produce. Argentine ants will eat just about anything they can get their grubby hands on, and they are a particularly social species of ant that “teams up” with other colonies nearby. Broadcast baiting with insecticide granules seems to be the most effective way to get rid of argentine ant colonies outside, while sweet baits help to control Argentine Ants inside.