They suspected that the insects left behind a compound in their feces called histamine. Although histamines help the immune system fight off germs and repair injuries for humans, they can also have damaging effects, including rashes from physical contact and respiratory issues from inhalation.
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After analyzing the results, they found that "histamine levels in bed bug infested homes were at least 20 times higher than histamine levels in homes without bed bugs," coauthor Zachary DeVries said in a statement.
The scientists also tracked the histamine over time after the extermination. They discovered these levels did not decline significantly three months later.
They are not sure how to reduce histamine but plan further investigations into eliminating bed bugs and their adverse effects.
“A combination of heat treatment to eradicate bed bugs and rigorous cleaning to eliminate some of the household dust could be a way to reduce these histamine levels,” DeVries said. “We’ll do future testing to bear that out.”
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