The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) is a known pest and an obligate blood-feeding ectoparasite. Bed bugs can feed on warm-blooded animals including humans, bats, poultry, and rabbits, but no research has investigated the use of companion animals (canines and/or felines) as a blood source. This study investigates how long known host DNA could be detected in a bed bug and the prevalence of bed bugs feeding on companion animals. Laboratory-reared bed bugs were fed host blood to determine how long DNA of human, feline, canine, and rabbit blood could be detected up to 21 d postfeeding. Additionally, 228 bed bugs were collected from 12 apartments with pets (6: canine, 5: feline, and 1: canine and feline), characterized as engorged or unengorged, and then screened with host-specific primers to identify the bloodmeal. Host meals of human, rabbit, feline, and canine blood were detected up to 21 d after feeding laboratory strains. All bed bugs died after feeding on the canine blood, but DNA could be detected up to 21 d post feeding/death. Of the field-collected bed bugs analyzed, human DNA was amplified in 158 (69.3%) bed bugs, canine DNA amplified in 7 bed bugs (3.1%), and feline DNA amplified in 1 bed bug (0.4%). Results of this study suggest that bed bugs predominately feed on humans and rarely feed on companion animals when they cohabitate in low-income, high-rise apartments. Additionally, results from this study warrant future investigations into host use by bed bugs in different housing structures and socioeconomic environments.
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Vol. 58 • No. 6