Human Health Considerations: Asthma and Allergies


DeVries, Z. C., R. G. Santangelo, A. M. Barbarin, and C. Schal. 2018. Histamine as an emergent indoor contaminant: Accumulation and persistence in bed bug infested homes. PLoS One. 13: e0192462. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0192462

“Histamine is used in bronchial and dermal provocation, but it is rarely considered an environmental risk factor in allergic disease. Because bed bugs defecate large amounts of histamine as a component of their aggregation pheromone, we sought to determine if histamine accumulates in household dust in bed bug infested homes, and the effects of bed bug eradication with spatial heat on histamine levels in dust. We collected dust in homes and analyzed for histamine before, and up to three months after bed bug eradication. Histamine levels in bed bug infested homes were remarkably high (mean = 54.6±18.9 μg/100 mg of sieved household dust) and significantly higher than in control homes not infested with bed bugs (mean < 2.5±1.9 μg/100 mg of sieved household dust). Heat treatments that eradicated the bed bug infestations failed to reduce histamine levels, even three months after treatment. We report a clear association between histamine levels in household dust and bed bug infestations. The high concentrations, persistence, and proximity to humans during sleep suggest that bed bug-produced histamine may represent an emergent contaminant and pose a serious health risk in the indoor environment.”


Abou Gamra, E. M., F. A. el Shayed, T. A. Morsy, H. M. Hussein, and E. S. Shehata. 1991. The relation between Cimex lectularius antigen and bronchial asthma in Egypt. Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology. 21(3): 735–746.

Groups of asthmatic and non-asthmatic individuals were tested for their sensitivity to several common inhaled antigens that cause allergic reactions including two extracts from bed bugs. The asthmatic group had more individuals with positive reactions to the bed bug extracts than the control group.


Jimenez-Diaz, C., and B. S. Cuenca. 1935. Asthma produced by susceptibility to unusual allergens. The Journal of Allergy. 6: 397–403.

Researchers describe patient cases where asthma was induced due to bed bugs, linseed, tobacco, or chicory.