Monday, June 2, 2008

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

Just down the street from Churchill Downs in Louisville, radiology residents from all over North America are currently running their own version of the Kentucky Derby at the annual Awfully Big Radiology exam.

Radiologists proctoring this exam wake at the crack of dawn and head for breakfast. While they are foraging, an assault division of maids storms their rooms and cleans them up in time for the exam.

One examiner returned from breakfast yesterday to find his room filled with a special SWAT team of maids, who told him he had to evacuate his room immediately. Once he saw the reason for their agitation -- an infestation of bedbugs -- he grabbed his stuff and ran. Rumor has it that the room will be sealed for 3 months before humans will be allowed to sleep there again.

There's a lot that most radiologists don't know about Cimex lectularius, the common bedbug. As news spread of this infestation, many iPhones and Blackberries were pulled out and many web pages were quickly consulted.

Here's the main scoop from Wikipedia:
Bedbugs are generally active only at dawn, with a peak attack period about an hour before dawn, though given the opportunity, they may attempt to feed at other times. Attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, the bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow tubes. With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place. The bites cannot usually be felt until some minutes or hours later, as a dermatological reaction to the injected agents.
Due to the widespread use of potent insecticides such as DDT, bedbugs were nearly eradicated. However, many of these strong insecticides have been banned from use in the United States are being replaced with weaker insecticides such as pyrethroids. The problem with the weaker insecticides is that many bedbugs have grown resistant to them. A study at the University of Kentucky randomly collected bedbugs from across the entire United States. These “wild” bedbugs were up to several thousands of times more resistant to pyrethroids than the laboratory bedbugs.
If your local radiologist seems to be scratching a bit more than usual, ask her if she just got back from Louisville.

As for me, I'm thinking about taking my suitcase straight from the airport to our radiotherapy department. Any mutant ninja bedbugs that have survived the journey back home next to my dirty underwear will hopefully have a little more trouble dealing with 100 Gy of hard radiation...

No comments: