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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bed Bug DNA Testing: Does It Work?

EnviroTech Exterminating

(918) 282-7621


Bed Bug DNA Testing: Does It Work?

Posted on December 28, 2011

Do you know what bed bug detection method is the most accurate?
There are many companies creating new devices as the bed bug epidemic in the United States increases.  Unfortunately, many of these technologies are not fully evaluated before they are released and used by the public and pest control industry.
Jeffrey White, an entomologist at Bed Bug Central, wrote a paper on the effectiveness and sensitivity of real-time PCR to detect bed bug DNA from swabs collected in both laboratory and field settings to evaluate the claims of Bed Bug DNA testing.
Here are some of the key findings from the Bed Bug DNA Test Results:
  1. It was found that bed bug DNA can be detected by real-time PCR if the swab is applied in an area where a bed bug has been and left DNA behind.
  2. Using PCR to assist in the detection of bed bug DNA is a technology that can be used to help identify the past or present presence of bed bugs.
  3. A “negative” test result should not be interpreted as meaning that bed bugs are not present since bed bug DNA may not have been left behind by a passing bug or the DNA may have been missed by the individual swabbing the area.
  4. A “positive” test results should be interpreted as meaning bed bugs are or were present within the last year.
  5. Bed bug DNA takes a year or more to denature and therefore it is not recommended that this test be used to determine if bed bugs have been eliminated or have been reintroduced if a bed bug infestation was present in the past.
  6. Due to the highly sensitive nature of this test, for those using this test that may be exposed to bed bug in other locations to where the test is being applied, cross-contamination is a serious concern and should be addressed accordingly.
  7. Real-time PCR cannot currently differentiate between the Common Bed Bug, C. lectularius, and Tropical Bed Bug, C. hemipterus.
  8. Bed bug DNA takes an unknown length of time to breakdown and “positive” test results were observed in areas where bed bugs had been dead for over one year.
  9. In low and moderate level infestations where monitoring technology is truly needed since bed bugs can be difficult to find through visual inspections, real-time PCR can detect bed bug DNA IF the swab was used in an area where bed bugs left DNA behind. Meaning that the test is inconsistent in low and moderate level infestations because it is impossible to determine where bed bug DNA will be.
  10. Real-time PCR is an extremely sensitive technology and areas being swabbed can be contaminated with bed bug DNA even though bed bugs may not be present.
Key Findings:
  • Anyone using this test should not determine that a “negative” test results means that you do not have bed bugs.
  • The results of this study clearly demonstrated that bed bug DNA can be detected up to a year or more after it was shed by a bed bug.
  • This test may not be ideal for someone who has had bed bugs in the past because the result of the test will most likely be returned “positive”.
  • Bed Bug DNA testing may provide the client potentially false information that they again have an active infestation.
  • If a swab is returned “positive” for bed bugs, a visual inspection should be conducted to confirm the presence of bed bugs to rule out a false-positive on old evidence or contamination transferred in from an infested environment.
Jeffrey White concludes, “As more and more bed bug detection devices and technologies become available to the public and pest control industry, it is important to properly test these devices prior to drawing conclusions on any results they may provide. Using real-time PCR analysis to detect bed bug DNA has the ability to help a homeowner or pest control company identify if bed bugs are present but should not be relied upon to indicate if a home or location is free of bed bugs. Also, using this test determine if bed bugs are still present after an infestation is treated is also not recommended due to the slow way in which DNA denatures. This tool should be viewed as another method to confirm the presence of bed bugs when a homeowner suspects them but has been unable to visually confirm bed bugs.”

EnviroTech Exterminating
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
(918) 282-7621
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