Mapping Philadelphia's Bed Bug Epidemic

Mapping Philadelphia's Bed Bug Epidemic

Tale of a Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Project
Penn Junior and Summer Undergraduate Minority Research (SUMR) Scholar Stephanie Lamb recounts her summer research project mapping bedbug infestations throughout Philadelphia.

What's it like surveying North Philadelphia neighborhoods for bed bug infestations in 100+ degree weather? University of Pennsylvania junior Stephanie Lamb now knows because of her work on a summer research project that mapped the spread of the blood-sucking insects.

Lamb was one of 18 student research scholars in the Leonard Davis Institute's 12th annual Summer Undergraduate Minority Research Program (SUMR) which pairs students with Penn research mentors on a variety of projects. Lamb details her bed bugging adventures in this six-minute video shot during the end-of-summer presentations that were part of this year's SUMR commencement ceremonies.

'Alarming resurgence'
Philadelphia, like other major urban areas is experiencing an explosion of bed bugs. In its latest brief on the subject, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention characterized the national bed bug epidemic as an "alarming resurgence" of an insect pest that had previously been under control.

Lamb explained that although the insects are not known to transmit disease, recent studies have found that they often carry human pathogens such as hepatitis. The concern is that the bugs could evolve the ability to transmit the disease organisms they now carry and become a far more threatening public health menace.

Penn project
Led by Michael Levy, PhD and assistant professor of epidemiology at Penn, the current project continues to map the spread of bed bugs throughout the city as the SUMR student return to their regular semester studies.

Lamb is pursuing a degree in Health and Societies with a concentration in Health Markets and Finance. During the summer she also simultaneously worked on a second research project on urban violence prevention led by Eugenia Garvin, MD, a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar.