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Study: Bedbugs With ‘Superbug’ Germ Found

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Bed bugs. (CBS, File)

Bed bugs. (CBS, File)

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ROYAL OAK (WWJ/AP) – Researchers are reporting an alarming combination: bedbugs carrying “superbug” germs.

A journal of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied a sample of bedbugs in a poor neighborhood in Canada. There, researchers found the drug-resistant bacteria known as MRSA.

WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with Dr. Matthew Sims, the director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Hospital, who said there is no reason to panic.

“It’s a very small study. Five bedbugs were looked at, and some of them had various resistant organisms — MRSA, VRE.  It’s not clear if they were in the bedbugs before they got to the patients, or if they came from the patients to the bedbugs,” Sims said.

One of the study’s authors said bedbugs can cause itching that can lead to excessive scratching. That can cause breaks in the skin that make people more susceptible to these bacteria

If you’re worried about bedbugs, Dr. Sims said one simple measure could go a long way: washing your bedding

The study is small and very preliminary, “But it’s an intriguing finding” that needs to be further researched, said Dr. Marc 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.

The 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.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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