USD Microbiologist to Study Bedbug Control

A tiny bedbug on the hand of Jose Pietri. USD assistant professor Jose Pietri received a grant from the United States Department of Defense to find a new way to control bedbug outbreaks.

VERMILLION, S.D. – University of South Dakota Department of Basic Biomedical Sciences assistant professor Jose Pietri, Ph.D., has been awarded a three-year grant from the United States Department of Defense to explore a new and promising approach to controlling bedbugs.

Bedbugs have developed resistance to many pesticides, and current methods of controlling infestations are often not useful. Though it is not clear that bedbugs transmit specific diseases, the bites and rashes are annoying, painful and can cause other health problems.

Because bedbugs develop immunity overtime to bacteria, Pietri hopes to block their immune system and make the bugs fatally ill to then pass the disease to others in the colony before dying. There are bacteria that may work, but Pietri said there are several areas to be explored.

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