Gross! What you need to know and do if your hotel room has bedbugs

USA TODAY | David Oliver | October 30, 2019

One of the last things anyone wants to see after entering a hotel room is a creepy, crawly bedbug — or to wake up with bedbug bites.

Bedbugs are tiny insects approximately the size of an apple seed. Adult bedbugs are oval, reddish-brown and flat. Younger ones can be difficult to see because they’re so small.

And there’s a reason they’re called bedbugs: They like to lurk during the daytime where people sleep and feed on them at night (bed bugs feed on both human and animal blood). The insects can be found in a host of places from mattresses to bedding to cracks in furniture to under carpeting and more.

Bedbugs can be found worldwide, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are not a reflection on the cleanliness of any accommodation (so, yes, even a five-star hotel can have bedbugs). They don’t spread disease nor are they seen as dangerous, but allergic reactions to bites could require a doctor visit.

The bites look like mosquito or flea bites, with a swollen, red spot that could itch or hurt. They could present randomly as well as in a straight line. Some people might not have any adverse reaction to the bites, but others could see swelling.

AP-Bedbug-Insecticide-Risk

One of the last things anyone wants to see after entering a hotel room is a creepy, crawly bedbug — or to wake up with bedbug bites. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

One of the last things anyone wants to see after entering a hotel room is a creepy, crawly bedbug — or to wake up with bedbug bites.
How do I look for bedbugs in my hotel room?
Make this a priority.

The University of Minnesota recommends looking at the edging and seams of mattresses and box springs, as well as a bed’s headboard. You should also check out the furniture near the bed, cracks in night stands as well as behind picture frames, where bedbugs can hide.

“If you think your hotel bed has bedbugs, you can either check your bed yourself, looking for small blood spots or small blood smears on the sheets and strip the bed and check under the mattress seams or ask the manager to organize for the housekeeper to do it for you,” Maureen Spencer, travel blogger, told USA TODAY. “Take photos of any evidence you find and ask for a room change.”

There’s no federal bedbug law, but 21 states do have bedbug-related legislation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, like ensuring hotels are maintaining cleanliness and that hotels must exterminate bedbugs before housing different guests.

What should I do if I find bedbugs in my hotel room?
Step one: Panic! (Just kidding.)

“The very first thing that you should do if you encounter bedbugs in your hotel room, or even if you have a suspicion that there might be bedbugs in your room, is to pack up your stuff and place it as far away from the bedbug-infested places as possible,” Kristiana Kripena, digital and content marketing director for InsectCop tells USA TODAY. You want to avoid the bugs coming with you to your own house, she says.

You should also obviously notify hotel staff, but do your best to stay calm.

“Remember – this is never going to be something that hotel staff wants to hear,” Becca Siegel of travel blog and Instagram @halfhalftravel tells USA TODAY. “Actually, it’s the last thing they want to hear because it’s going to affect everyone staying in the hotel, their staff, their efforts in eradicating bedbugs and also their ratings online. Try to remain calm and empathetic.”

Also remember that what you think is a bedbug might not be one at all.

“I can’t tell you the number of times that a guest just sees a bug near a bed or on a bed and makes an assumption,” Victoria Agredo, a hospitality industry veteran, tells USA TODAY. “An untrained eye checking a room for themselves really isn’t that helpful. They may find something or they may create a panic over nothing.”

If they are indeed bedbugs, make sure you ask to be moved to a different room (and not one next to the one where you stayed).

Jordan Bishop, founder of consumer watchdog and travel website Yore Oyster, recommends sealing your clothes and other belongings in plastic bags and running them through a hot laundry cycle ASAP.

You can also use a garbage bag, and place that in a freezer overnight to get rid of bedbugs. For non-washable items, enlist a pest-management professional.

 

EPA approves use of bee-killing pesticide

Agency also suspends study of bee populations

RollCall.com |Elvina Nawaguna | July 15, 2019

Just days after another federal agency suspended its periodical study of honey bee populations, the EPA greenlighted the wider use of a pesticide that environmental activists warn could further decimate the pollinators.

A major conservation group says it will take the agency to court over the decision.

The EPA said Friday it was permitting the broader use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor, a move that follows a request by chemical manufacturer Dow AgroSciences LLC.

The EPA approval of sulfoxaflor follows a decision by the Agriculture Department last week to suspend its study of bee populations, a tool that beekeepers use to track the decline of colonies. The USDA cited limited “fiscal and program resources” as justification for its decision to stop collecting the data.

Dow Chemical Co., the former parent of Dow AgroSciences, gave President Donald Trump $1 million for his 2017 inauguration, according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics.

Gregg Schmidt, a spokesman for the company, now called Corteva Agriscience following its spinoff after the merger of Dow and DuPont, said it was “pleased” with EPA’s decision. “Growers should have access to tools that can be used safely according to the product label,” he said in an emailed response.

Researchers have observed the sudden and quick disappearance of honey bee colonies in the U.S. and other parts of the world, with implications for ecosystems, crop yields and nutrition.

Blame for the bees’ losses have been assigned to intensive farming practices; planting of a single crop on the same land year after year, or mono-cropping; excessive use of agricultural chemicals and higher temperatures due to climate change, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“Bees are under great threat from the combined effects of climate change, intensive agriculture, pesticides use, biodiversity loss and pollution,” said FAO’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva in a video for World Bee Day in May. “The absence of bees and other pollinators would wipe out coffee, apples, almonds, tomatoes and cocoa to name just a few of the crops that rely on pollination.”

Between April 2018 and the same month this year, beekeepers in the U.S. lost about 40.7 percent of their colonies, according to a report by of the Bee Informed Partnership, a program partly run by the University of Maryland and Auburn University.

“Just looking at the overall picture . . .  it’s disconcerting that we’re still seeing elevated losses after over a decade of survey and quite intense work to try to understand and reduce colony loss,” Geoffrey Williams, assistant professor of entomology at Auburn University and co-author, said in comments accompanying the June 19 report. “We don’t seem to be making particularly great progress to reduce overall losses.”

A study published in the journal Nature found exposure to sulfoxaflor reduced bees’ ability to reproduce.

“The Trump EPA’s reckless approval of this bee-killing pesticide across 200 million U.S. acres of crops like strawberries and watermelon without any public process is a terrible blow to imperiled pollinators,” Lori Ann Burd, the director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s environmental health program, said following EPA’s announcement. “With no opportunity for independent oversight or review, this autocratic administration’s appalling decision to bow to industry and grant broad approval for this highly toxic insecticide leaves us with no choice but to take legal action.”

The Obama administration in 2015 moved to ban the use of the pesticide after a lawsuit brought by beekeepers. Another court decision later prompted the Obama EPA to allow the use of the pesticide although it restricted it to only crops that are not attractive to pollinators.

Dow AgroSciences, the manufacturer of the pesticide, in 2018 filed an application to the EPA for wider use of sulfoxaflor, according to a filing in the Federal Register.

EPA’s decision on Friday not only adds new uses for the pesticides but also removes previous restrictions.

Mark Bello, Esq. | October 1, 2015

Toxic Time Bombs – MRI Reveals Brain Damage (Terminix)


Although pesticides are intended to harm only the target – the pest – humans are being harmed by overuse, misuse, and even lawful use of these toxic chemicals.

Two days after their home was fumigated for termites, the family was told it was safe to go back inside. Within a few hours, the whole family began vomiting. While the parents and their 7-year-old daughter recovered, their son became worse. According to a family member, he had uncontrollable muscle spasms, impaired speech, and could not stand. Suspecting that he was poisoned by the termite treatment chemicals, the family rushed the child to a local hospital where he spent 10 days in the intensive care unit. An MRI revealed he has brain damage.

The child has since been transferred to another children’s hospital where he has a daily regimen of physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Though there are pauses when he wants to speak, he is beginning to verbally communicate with words and short sentences. He is unable to stabilize his own body to sit or stand on his own, so the child needs 24/7 care as he is a fall risk. Although progressing slowly, the extent in which he will improve is still unknown. He could continue to improve over the next weeks, months, even years or today could be the extent of his recovery.

The State Department of Agriculture issued a “stop work order” against Sunland Pest Control from performing any fumigations while the investigation continues into what made the child sick. Sunland is the subcontractor of Terminix who conducted the fumigation at the family home.

The family has filed a lawsuit against because Terminix and Sunland Pest Control because Terminix has not responded to their questions about what happened. According to the lawsuit, a different chemical from what the family was told was used to fumigate the home. The suit also alleges that the subcontractor put too much of the chemical in the home and failed to ventilate the house before the family was told they could return.

This is not the first time (for) Terminix has faced accusations involving fumigation injuries; it is also not the first lawsuit. Earlier this year, a Delaware family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands was hospitalized after they were exposed to the toxic chemical methyl bromide at their resort. The chemical was applied to a vacant unit directly beneath the family’s unit at the resort. The use of the pesticide, which can cause damage to the central nervous system and respiratory system, is banned for residential use in 1984. The EPA, Justice Department, and authorities in the Virgin Islands are investigating how and why banned methyl bromide was used by the Terminix at the resort.

All four family members were taken to a Philly hospital; two teen boys suffered seizures. A doctor said that all though a “meaningful recovery” is still possible for the teens, “the potential for meaningful survival and living independently is going to become less and less likely as time passes—it ultimately comes down to how much of the poison they breathed in, and for how long.”

The same week the Florida family filed their lawsuit, a 27-year-old woman from West Palm Beach filed a lawsuit against Terminix. She alleges that while working as a security guard for New Bay Club, she was sprayed by an insecticide being used to spray for ants in the attic. The woman said she experienced chemical burning from the insecticide which has left her in a wheelchair and unable to walk on her own. She also lost most feeling in her legs and suffers from neurological problems. The New Bay Club and BASF, the manufacturer of the pesticide are also named as defendants.

For years, pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from short-term impacts such as headaches and nausea to acute poisoning, cancer, neurological damage, birth defects, suppressed immune systems, lung damage, and dysfunction of the immune systems. Yet, these dangerous toxins are still used in our schools, parks, homes, and more. Children are more vulnerable to pesticide poisonings because they spend more time close to the ground or floor where pesticides are applied and their developing bodies may not break down some chemicals as effectively as adults. There is now considerable scientific evidence that the human brain is not fully formed until the age of 12, and childhood exposure to some of the most common pesticides on the market may greatly impact the development of the central nervous system. Because they have not developed their immune systems, nervous systems, or detoxifying mechanisms completely, children are less capable of fighting the introduction of toxic pesticides into their systems.

According to the EPA, by their very nature, most pesticides create some risk of harm. So what is the solution? The first step is to determine if you really need a pesticide. Like humans, pests need food, water, and shelter to survive.

If you or someone you know becomes ill from pesticide exposure, call 9-1-1, seek medical help, or call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately. Tell them that you may have been exposed to a pesticide and include as much information as possible about what happened. To report possible pesticide misuse, contact your County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.