From hotel beds to movie theater seats, it seems bed bugs are absolutely everywhere these days (and if they’re not, oh god, they might be, so you’ll drive yourself insane investigating every little speck you spot). Standard methods for trying to get rid of the bugs are long, arduous, and heavy on the pesticides. Now, though, preliminary research suggests that one answer could be a little pill from drug giant Merck.
While no one seems to agree on the cause, the bed-bug population is spiking, especially in big cities. In September, New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which advises people on how to deal with bed-bug infestations, had to fumigate itself. San Francisco is instituting a bed bug Census. This week, Cleveland held a bed bug summit. Bed bugs have become a mainstay of contemporary urban living, an inconvenience we’re forced to accept along with crowded buses (where, oh god, you might catch them).
Now comes new research suggesting that the Merck drug Stromectol kills bed bugs within a few hours — of them, uh, feeding on you after you take the stuff. From Bloomberg:
Stromectol is used to treat diseases caused by worm parasites such as river blindness, one of the leading causes of preventable blindness, and elephantiasis, or lymphatic filariasis, which causes certain parts of the body to become enlarged. Sheele’s research suggests its pesticidal properties may also fight bed-beg incursions …
Side effects of Stromectol include vision problems, bowel problems, lack of coordination, and seizures. Considering bed bugs don’t actually carry any diseases of their own, maybe we’re better off learning to cohabitate with the little crawlies (read: sealed mattress covers) instead of knocking them out with pharmaceuticals.