Bed bugs themselves are not deadly to humans. Their bites are usually only mildly irritating, while their presence is psychologically the stuff of nightmares. For travelers to cities with known infestations, the health concern shouldn't be whether or not the bed bugs will bite, but whether the hotel room has been doused in deadly pesticides.
Five foreign tourists and a Thai guide died this year in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, while several others fell ill. Authorities conclude that most of the deaths were related since they occurred in proximity to each other, but the exact cause is still unknown.
The Thai Department of Disease Control recently released a report stating that it believes the tourists died of chemical exposure, but they don't know exactly which chemical was the culprit. But other experts point the finger at bed bug pesticides.
The department says more than 350 drug, chemical, and organism tests were performed on the victims, who came from New Zealand, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In the case of New Zealander Sarah Carter, 23, who died in February, 1,250 tests were performed.