High prevalence of bedbugs Cimex hemipterus and Cimex lectularis in camps for internally displaced persons in Freetown, Sierra Leone: a pilot humanitarian investigation

West Afr J Med. 2002 Oct-Dec;21(4):268-71. doi: 10.4314/wajm.v21i4.27994.


The prevalence of bedbugs Cimex hemipera and C. lectularis was investigated in camps for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Two hundred and thirty eight rooms were searched during the day and at night, and 233 (98%) of those rooms in 30 booths were infested with different life cycle stages of bedbugs. There hundred and ninety-eight (68%) of the bedbugs were adults, 145 (24.8%) were nymphs of various instars, and 41 (7%) were clusters of eggs. Significantly (P > 0.05) more bedbugs were recovered during the night inspections 64.6% as compared to 35.4% during the day inspections. In addition, more adult bedbugs were recovered at night than during the day, a manifestation of their peak feeding period. Of the total of 570 adults and nymphs collected and identified, 320 (56.1%) and 250 (43.9%) were Cimex lectularis and Cimex hemipterus respectively. Clinical examination of 221 individuals living in the booths during 3 consecutive weeks of examinations and treatment for conditions suggestive of bedbug infestation (bites and skin reactions as well as treatments for other health and medical conditions) showed that 196 (86%) had wheals as a direct result of bedbug bites. The data of this pilot humanitarian investigation shows a high prevalence of bedbug infestation in these displacement camps. It is recommended that some control measures be instituted, like residual insecticide application along with integrating control methods within the primary health care system, because bedbugs are a source of great irritation and sleepless nights that could lead to stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Attitude to Health
  • Bedbugs* / classification
  • Bedbugs* / physiology
  • Bites and Stings / epidemiology*
  • Bites and Stings / etiology*
  • Bites and Stings / prevention & control
  • Camping* / statistics & numerical data
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Insect Control / methods
  • Pilot Projects
  • Population Density
  • Prevalence
  • Public Housing / statistics & numerical data
  • Refugees* / education
  • Refugees* / psychology
  • Refugees* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sierra Leone / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Urban Health* / statistics & numerical data
  • Warfare