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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2013 Apr;88(4):619-25. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.12-0493.

Bed bug detection: current technologies and future directions.

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  • 1Center for Infectious Disease and Biodefense Research, SRI International, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA.


Technologies to detect bed bugs have not kept pace with their global resurgence. Early detection is critical to prevent infestations from spreading. Detection based exclusively on bites is inadequate, because reactions to insect bites are non-specific and often misdiagnosed. Visual inspections are commonly used and depend on identifying live bugs, exuviae, or fecal droplets. Visual inspections are inexpensive, but they are time-consuming and unreliable when only a few bugs are present. Use of a dog to detect bed bugs is gaining in popularity, but it can be expensive, may unintentionally advertise a bed bug problem, and is not foolproof. Passive monitors mimic natural harborages; they are discreet and typically use an adhesive to trap bugs. Active monitors generate carbon dioxide, heat, a pheromone, or a combination to attract bed bugs to a trap. New technologies using DNA analysis, mass spectrometry, and electronic noses are innovative but impractical and expensive for widespread use.

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