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Bed bugs in Ontario: A priority for public health?

​Public Health Ontario scientists conducted an updated systematic review on the health effects of bed bugs.

What they found in their review was quite interesting: While bed bugs remain a huge public concern, and have a certain gross factor, there is little evidence to suggest that tracking bed bugs should be an important priority for public health officials. Why? Although bed bug bites can become infected, bed bugs are not responsible for transmission of diseases such as hepatitis or AIDS. Their actual impact on health is quite minimal, though bites are unpleasant.

Commissioned at request of Chief Medical Officer of Health, the systematic review sought to provide the best available epidemiological evidence in support of public health policy decision-making in Ontario. This finding, then, raises the question:  Should public health officials with limited budgets invest more time and money in a bed bug surveillance system for what is, essentially, a nuisance? Notably, Ontario has not yet made a decision on a province-wide surveillance system of bed bugs.

Based on the evidence review and after consultation with colleagues in health units, PHO offered the following options to support ongoing provincial efforts on bed bug control and management:

  • Collaboration with
  • Data links to existing administrative databases such as medical service database and hospital discharge databases
  • Creation of a government-financed bed bug registry
  • Routine surveys, either a new stand-alone provincial-wide survey or being a part of an existing health survey such as the Rapid Risk Factor Surveillance System (RRFSS)
  • Surveillance based on pest control industry databases, calls to local public health units, requests for support received by Community and Social Services of Ontario, participation from health care providers and calls to TeleHealth Ontario
  • No formal surveillance

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Page updated on [date/time] 09/07/2015 2:43 PM
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