Updated: February 3, 2021

Bed bugs can be a real nightmare.

They’re creepy.


And feast on your blood.

But the real question is whether bed bugs can be deadly. 

Can Bed Bugs Kill You?

In short, no. bed bugs will not kill you.

In very rare cases bed bug bites can lead to serious symptoms, which can cause serious health conditions. Bed bug symptoms are usually quite mild, and if anything they cause more emotional distress than physical.

What’s an example of a serious bed bug symptom?

Sepsis. A blood infection.

Without treatment, sepsis turns into septic shock which can be fatal.

While this is not super common, sepsis can come from infected bed bug bites that have not been properly treated — such as keeping the bite clean and free from bacteria.

If it comes to it and sepsis turns into septic shock . . .

Proper treatment includes IV antibiotics and fluids administered at the hospital.

In some cases, oxygen is required.

If that isn’t enough, the pesticide used to treat the infestation may make you sick.

Pyrethrin is a common chemical used to treat bed bug infestations. Exposure to a lot of this chemical can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Sneezing
  • Nausea  
  • Nasal stuffiness 
  • Tremors
  • Loss of coordination
  • Swelling
  • Facial flushing
  • Convulsions
  • Asthmatic breathing

In short, no bed bugs cannot kill you outright.

However . . . 

They can make you ill and if these conditions are not taken care of they can potentially be dangerous.


Just in case . . .

Make sure to clean the bites and watch for infection.

But what about your four-legged family members? Are they in danger?

Can Bed Bugs Kill Dogs?

As sweet as dogs are, they are not immune to bed bugs.

Bed bugs feast on anything with blood (including your pets).

Not only will bed bugs bite your dog, but they can also hitchhike on your dog and into your house – whether it be on fur, bedding, or toys.

Though bed bugs do have a hard time moving around fur, which is why humans are their first choice. 

What happens when your dog is getting bit by bed bugs?

Talk to your vet. Flea and tick treatments may not work. Harsh pesticides can be harmful to your dog so be careful!

This is one of the reasons why treatments should be done by a professional. There are effective methods at bed bug removal which don’t require harmful pesticides at all.

Such as the bed bug heat treatment.

Symptoms of high levels of chemicals can cause:

  • drooling
  • lethargy
  • respiratory failure
  • muscle tremors
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • seizures
  • numbness
  • paralysis
  • death


Keep your best friend safe by calling a professional to get rid of the infestation immediately.

Can Bed Bugs Kill Cats?

The answer is no, bed bugs can not kill cats. Bed bugs bites are uncomfortable (to say the least) for your feline friend.

These bites can cause the following symptoms for your cat:

  • Itchiness
  • Excessive scratching
  • Skin infection
  • Allergic reactions

Look for bites on their stomach or back as these are the most common bite areas on cats.

What about using flea and tick treatments to treat bed bugs?

No, these may not be effective for treating bed bugs.

Talk to your vet about what treatment is most effective and safe for your cat.

Can Bed Bug Bites Make You Physically Sick?

Itching is a common reaction to bed bug bites, but it doesn’t stop there.

Allergic reactions to bed bugs can range from mild to severe – making you physically sick.

Signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling
  • Pain in the area bitten
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

Do not leave an allergic reaction unchecked.

This can lead to anaphylaxis . . .

A life-threatening allergic reaction.

The scary thing is allergic reactions can get more severe over time until an anaphylaxis reaction occurs.

How is an allergic reaction treated?

Typically, with antihistamines such as Benadryl. Be sure to consult with your doctor first.

But what about anaphylaxis?

Since this is more severe, it is normally treated in the hospital with . . .

  • Oxygen
  • Epinephrine
  • IV antihistamines

Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, so don’t ignore the signs — the biggest of which are swelling of the throat, tongue, and difficulty breathing.

Can Bed Bugs Cause Health Problems?

Yes, bed bugs can cause some health problems — namely on the skin.

What kind?

Either Impetigo, or Ecthyma are the most common.

Impetigo is an extremely contagious bacterial skin infection that causes sores on the face. It normally affects infants and children.

When impetigo is deeper in the skin it is called ecthyma. It is still a bacterial infection that causes crusty sores.


Mental health issues have been reported by people who have experienced bed bugs in their home.

These include insomnia and anxiety. In some cases, bed bugs can cause long lasting psychological issues.

Insomnia is common because bed bugs feast at night. Past victims will typically lie awake feeling the bed bugs crawling across their skin.

Victims who feel any light sensation on their body will quickly jump to conclusions that it must be bed bugs.

How can anyone sleep through that?

Insomnia leads to

  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble focusing
  • Irritability

So yes, bed bugs cause physical, mental, and emotional health problems.

Can You Live with Bed Bugs?

Maybe —  but the question should be do you want to live with bed bugs?

The resounding answer is . . .


Bed bugs infestations can get out of hand quickly.

If a fertilized female makes her way into your home, she can lay around 100 eggs in the 1st month.

At the end of the 2nd month, there will be 10 adults breeding with 200 bed bugs in various stages of growth.

By the end of the 3rd month…

The bed bug infestation will be in full swing with 100 breeding adults, 1,000 developing bed bugs, and up to 500 eggs.

So no, you cannot and should not live with bed bugs.

Long Term Side Effects of Bed Bug Bites

Assuming you don’t have an allergic reaction, or experience an infection from bites, or hallucinate because of lack of sleep – you still have to deal with the side effects of bed bug bites.

Itchiness is probably the biggest one —  as the bites will cause unsavory red itchy spots.

Not only are these small bites unsightly and itch like crazy, but they will keep you up in the middle of the night itching or thinking about the constant irritation.

How do you get rid of the itchiness?

Over-the-counter medications can help. You can start by smoothing a cream over the bite marks to calm the irritation. However, the bites will only get worse as time goes on if the infestation is not dealt with soon after it is discovered.

Remember, an anti-itch cream is a temporary solution to your symptoms until you can get rid of the infestation.

Do Bed Bugs Carry Disease?

In a lab experiment, bed bugs have been shown to spread Chagas disease in mice.

For the time being, it hasn’t been shown to spread to humans this way. . .


You don’t want to be the first one to find out bed bugs are spreading Chagas disease to humans.

As of now, Chagas disease is spread by kissing bugs —- which are a distant cousin to the bed bug.

The disease is most common in Latin America, but cases in the U.S. have been on the rise.

While bed bugs cannot kill you outright, in rare cases they can cause serious reactions like allergic reactions, sepsis, insomnia, and mental/emotional issues.

What Should I Do if I Suspect Bed Bugs?

If you do suspect a bed bug infestation…

The key is not to panic. Don’t move furniture out of your room and throw away your belongings in a frenzy. You especially shouldn’t be reckless about using DIY pest control products that could be harmful to you or your family.

The first step is to properly identify the pests that you’re experiencing and prove that they are in fact bed bugs.

There are several insects that are easily mistaken for bed bugs, so be sure to identify accordingly.

Since bed bugs hide during the day…

You can identify these pests by doing some of the following:

  • Wait until night and grab a flashlight to help you find evidence of an infestation. You can look for eggs, fecal stains, or shed skin.
  • Use bed bug traps to capture bed bugs while they’re moving.
  • Check your body for any signs of bites (These could look like red welts or bumps in a clustered formation.

Once you identify the infestation you can take measures to seek proper treatment.

So… Can Bed Bugs Cause Death?

Aside from extremely rare cases (normally due to those with pre-existing conditions), bed bugs will not cause death.

They likely will not pose a serious health risk to the victims that they bite. The degree of physical injury can vary depending on the severity of the infestation, and the sensitivity of your skin.

In some cases, bites will not show up at all, in others, bites can swell up and last for weeks.

Bed bug bites will cause a much larger degree of emotional stress rather than physical. So, if you are experiencing bed bugs it’s important to stay calm and take swift action.

If you were bitten in an apartment or hotel room, you may be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries. Get in touch with us for your free consultation. A lawyer will discuss next steps with you and help determine whether you have a case for a lawsuit.

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Date Published: 2020-07-28

Written By Robert Brown

I'm a seasoned pest control veteran. I focus my time on writing educational content about the industry and helping people learn about indoor insects. When I'm not thinking about bed bugs I am spending time with my daughters or walking the dog.

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