Bed bugs are associated with anemia

Johnathan M. Sheele, Bobbi S. Pritt, Claudia R. Libertin, Ewa M. Wysokinska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Bed bugs are hematophagous insects that can be problematic in some urban emergency departments. The objective was to determine if red blood cell (RBC) and coagulation indices of bed bug–infested emergency department (ED) patients differed from those of noninfested control patients. Methods: A chart review from a single health system was performed for ED patients between February 1, 2011, and February 1, 2017. Bed bug–infested patients were matched to noninfested control patients on the basis of age, sex, and the presenting ED. Variables were analyzed with the t-test and Pearson χ2 test and were modeled with multivariable logistic regression. Results: The study had 332 bed bug–infested patients and 4952 controls. Infested patients had lower hemoglobin (11.7 g/dL vs 12.8 g/dL), hematocrit (35.0% vs 37.9%), RBC counts (4.1 × 109/L vs 4.4 × 109/L), mean corpuscular volume (86.0 vs 87.5 fL/cell), and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentrations (33.2 vs 33.7 g/dL) and higher RBC distribution width-coefficient of variation (RDW-CV) (15.2% vs 14.2%) than noninfested patients (all P ≤ .003). Infested patients were more likely to be anemic (59.5% vs 36.9%) and to have severe anemia (4.4% vs 0.7%) (P < .001 for both). Blood transfusions were more common in those with bed bugs (5.1%) than those without bed bugs (2.3%) (P < .001). Conclusion: Bed bug infestated patients in the ED are associated with anemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)482-488
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Anemia
  • Hematology
  • Infectious diseases
  • Iron deficiency
  • Public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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