“Receiving this grant is very exciting because there has not traditionally been much federal support for research on bed bugs,” Pietri said. “Especially when it comes to investigating their public health impacts, funding for research on these insects tends to slip through the cracks, and they don’t receive the same attention as some of the major public health pests such as mosquitoes and ticks.” 

The broad goal of the project is to examine the relationship between bed bugs and human pathogenic microbes to determine whether there is a potential risk for bed bugs to transmit pathogens to people in modern-built environments, such as human homes.

The project will involve analysis of field-collected bed bugs to determine if they harbor any human pathogens and laboratory infection studies to determine if bed bugs could potentially acquire, maintain and transmit certain human pathogens of interest.

Pathogen emergence can be a random process and since bed bugs are so prevalent, it is important to continue to monitor the possible risks that they pose to the health of humans experiencing bed bug infestations, especially when it comes to the transmission of infectious agents,” Pietri said.

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