Are Bed Bugs Contagious?

bed bug nymph

Bed Bug (Nymph)

Are Bed Bugs Contagious?

Bed bugs were once on the brink of eradication, but have made a resurgence in recent years. There are several possible reasons for this, including more travel by the average person, knowledge of the bugs falling out of public consciousness, and increased resistance to pest control methods.Regardless of the reason for the comeback, they are here.

This raises some questions about bed bugs: What are they, are they contagious, and how do you get rid of them?

Bed Bugs Are An Insect, Not An Illness

Since bed bugs are insects, you don’t exactly “catch” them like you would a disease or illness. They do, however, spread from person-to-person through various methods.

How Bed Bugs Spread

Bed bugs are parasitic blood suckers, who feed on living hosts.

But how do they get from host to host?

In several ways, but for spreading amongst humans, person-to-person contact is one of the least likely ways for bed bugs to spread. Unlike lice, bed bugs do not typically remain on hosts permanently.

Like their name would suggest, bed bugs can also live in bedding. It is commonly thought that hotels and motels (especially cheaper ones that are lax on cleaning) are rabid breeding grounds for bed bugs, but this is actually less true than most people think. One researcher investigated cases of hotels who had bed bug infestations and cleared them up. He was looking to see how long it would take for the bugs to come back, but they simply didn’t in the following 12 months. Not even in the case of one hotel that had served nearly 100,000 customers.

One of the more common carriers for bed bugs is luggage. This is because your suitcases and bags are frequently travelling, and let’s be honest: how often are they really washed?

Just How Easy Is It To Get Bed Bugs?

It really depends on the circumstances.

If your significant other picks some up while traveling, and brings them back to your bed? You will almost certainly get them.

If your coworker had them and you shake his hand? Almost no chance of transference.

Who Gets Bed Bugs?

Many stereotypes exist about bed bugs, with varying degrees of truth to them. One of the more prevalent is that poor or dirty people are more likely to catch or spread them.

Bed Bugs:

Bed Bugs Hide in Fabric Folds

This is actually somewhat true. More so the “poor” aspect than the “dirty”, actually. It may seem insensitive to suggest that the poor are more likely to spread bed bugs, but research backs it up. Not only does low-income housing have a higher turnover rate, which means more people moving in or out, but the people living there are in less of a position to do something about an infestation.

Pathogens Carried By Bed Bugs (Or Not?)

It is often suggested that bed bugs are capable of carrying pathogens which are harmful to humans. I’ve even seen articles suggesting that there are up to 30 distinct pathogens that bed bugs can spread. This is not true, according to a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association. While bed bugs can carry certain pathogens in their bodies, they cannot spread them to humans.

To rephrase: There is little evidence to suggest that bed bugs spread disease or illness.


While bed bugs are not contagious per se, they can be spread from person to person through contact with clothing, bedding, or luggage.

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Non-Toxic Spray


This non-toxic spray kills larvae, eggs, and adult insects by breaking down their exoskeleton. It is safe to spray around the home and works only on the insects. Feel good about spraying indoors around pets, plants and children.
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