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Scientists Discover Bedbugs Carrying MRSA Germ In Study

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FILE - This undated file photo provided by Orkin LLC shows bed bugs. (AP Photo/Orkin LLC, File)

FILE – This undated file photo provided by Orkin LLC shows bed bugs. (AP Photo/Orkin LLC, File)

Al Jones Al Jones
A native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Al Jones has been with 1010...
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hate insects? Afraid of germs? Researchers are reporting an alarming combination: bedbugs carrying a staph “superbug.”

Canadian scientists detected drug-resistant staph bacteria in bedbugs from three hospital patients from a downtrodden Vancouver neighborhood.

Al Jones of 1010 WINS spoke with some tourists in Times Square about the finding.

1010 WINS’ Al Jones Speaks With Tourists In Times Square


Marie, who was visiting from Kentucky, said the thought of bedbugs made her skin crawl.

“I thought..why should they scare us? Maybe I should start getting scared,” she said.

Sofia said looking for the creepy, crawly critters was all a part of her routine, which includes checking bedding carefully before her head hits the pillow.

“I think about them, but we haven’t encountered any. We haven’t found any, but I think about them when we go,” she said.

Bedbugs have not been known to spread disease, and there’s no clear evidence that the five bedbugs found on the patients or their belongings had spread the MRSA germ they were carrying or a second less dangerous drug-resistant bacteria.

However, bedbugs can cause itching that can lead to excessive scratching. That can cause breaks in the skin that make people more susceptible to these germs, noted Dr. Marc Romney, one of the study’s authors.

The study is small and very preliminary. “But it’s an intriguing finding” that needs to be further researched, said Romney, medical microbiologist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver.

The hospital is the closest one to the poor Downtown Eastside neighborhood near the city’s waterfront. Romney said he and his colleagues did the research after seeing a simultaneous boom in bedbugs and MRSA cases from the neighborhood.

Five bedbugs were crushed and analyzed. MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, was found on three bugs. MRSA is resistant to several types of common antibiotics and can become deadly if it gets through the skin and into the bloodstream.

Two bugs had VRE, or vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, a less dangerous form of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Both germs are often seen in hospitals, and experts have been far more worried about nurses and other health care workers spreading the bacteria than insects.

It’s not clear if the bacteria originated with the bedbugs or if the bugs picked it up from already infected people, Romney added.

The study was released Wednesday by Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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