A survey of patients with bed bugs in the emergency department

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Bed bugs are one of the most important human ectoparasites in the United States, and a growing problem in the emergency department. We evaluated 40 emergency department (ED) patients found with a bed bug. The data show that ED patients with bed bugs are statistically more likely to be male, older, more likely to be admitted to the hospital, have higher triage emergency severity index (ESI) scores, and arrive by ambulance than the general ED patient population (p < 0.05). On average bed bugs were found 108 min after a patient arrived to the ED, after 35% of subjects had already received a blood draw, and after 23% had already received a radiology study; putting other ED patients and staff at risk for acquiring the infestation. We found that 13% and 18% of subjects had wheezing and a papular rash, respectively on physical exam. Of those patients found with a bed bug in the ED, 42% reported having bed bugs at home and 21% reporting having a possible home infestation.

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