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New Pill Could Prevent Bed Bugs

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:11 PM EDT

It's enough to make your skin crawl!  Health experts and exterminators say bed bug infestations are becoming more common.  Baltimore ranks among the top 20 cities for the critters. Homes, hotels and even hospitals have been infested with them.

Doctor Johnathan Sheele is an ER physician with Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia.  He says, "I have had patients come into the ER with sandwich baggies full of bed bugs. They said they woke up in the middle of the night, these things were crawling on them what are they and what can I do about them?"

Dr. Sheele came up with a theory on how to kill the bugs.  Back when he was working as a researcher with Johns Hopkins University, he found himself treating patients with parasites in developing countries. 

The generic drug, Ivermectin, proved to be very effective in killing insects.  So he figured it might kill bed bugs too. 

"It's been given to hundreds of millions of people over the last 20 or 30 years and I know that it kills other insects like scabies, lice," said Sheele.

He and his colleagues set out to find out if it could work.  First, they experimented on mice, then on themselves.

"We let the bed bugs feed on us and then we set them aside.  Then we took the Ivermectin. Then we took another tube of bed bugs and let them feed on us and set them aside.  Then another tube and another tube and we did that over time and then we watched them every day," Sheele said.
Within 48 hours the adult bed bugs that bit them died.

"To my knowledge, this is the first study that's looked at taking an oral, anti-parasitic that would kill the bed bug."

But Doctor Scheele says much more research is needed to determine the proper dosage of the drug -- if it's ever approved as a remedy for bed bugs.

New Pill Could Prevent Bed Bugs

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