Bed bugs have become the scourge of the hotel industry in recent years. There is no way to prevent bed bugs from entering hotels or motels. Bed bugs are expert travelers and can live a long time without food or water. However, the issue we deal with as bed bug injury attorneys is not that bed bugs exist and can be transported to hotels. The real issue is whether bed bug infestations can be identified to prevent hotel guests from getting injured.
All Hotels Get Bed Bugs
No matter the size or rating, all hotels can get bed bugs. We have represented bed bug injury victims who have stayed at inexpensive roadside motels and 5 star resorts. Bed bugs do not discriminate where they will infest and do not care about bedding thread count. All bed bugs care about is whether they can get food (human blood) to stay alive. The difference between hotel properties usually comes down to employee training, pest control and protocol. The best hotels will have appropriate pest control treatments in all rooms on a regular basis to prevent an infestation from taking hold. Further, when a bed bug infestation is discovered, hotels must close down the infested room and any other connecting room. The rooms left, right, above and below should all be shut down and treated for bed bug infestations to prevent the spread to other rooms.
Where Hotels Should Look for Bed Bugs
The first thing that a hotel should do is inspect each room to discover how wide spread the infestation has become. Checking mattresses, sheets, box springs, headboards, couches, chairs, night stands and baseboards in the rooms is necessary. Bed bugs are small insects but are visible to the naked eye. Even bed bug eggs are visible without the assistance of a microscope or magnifying glass. In addition to the actual bugs, bed bugs leave evidence of where they have been.
Evidence of bed bugs comes in many forms. Of course the biggest indicator of bed bug activity or infestation in a hotel room is the presence of live bed bugs. From the sight of one bug, it is difficult to tell how long the infestation has been present. The more bed bugs that are alive and visible, the more likely the infestation has been present for some time. The presence of live bed bugs in multiple stages of life is a good indicator of an older infestation.
The older the infestation, the more unreasonable it is for a hotel to claim they were unaware. Live bugs and bed bug eggs are an even bigger indicator of an older infestation. Bed bug eggs are very small, about the size of a pin head, and can be more difficult to see. Using a flashlight when inspecting a bed is important for this reason.
More Ways to Find Evidence of Bed Bugs In Hotel Rooms
Whenever a bed bug feeds on human blood, it excretes fecal matter onto the same surface. The fecal matter appears in the form of small black spots or streaks on porous material like sheets, comforters or mattresses. The black spots are called “Fecal Spotting” and are a clear sign that bed bugs have been present and have consumed a blood meal.
In addition to Fecal Spotting, hotels can be on the lookout for other signs of a bed bug infestation. Shed bed bug skins in or around the bed are another clear indicator of bed bug activity. During most of the bed bug life-cycle, they consume a blood meal and will grow. When the bed bug grows, it sheds its outer skin. The skin remains behind while the bed bug crawls off to its hiding place or to find another blood meal. The outer skins are usually one intact piece of light brown or tan color in the shape of the bed bug. The more skins present in a hotel room, the larger the infestation.
Another example of bed bug activity comes from humans. Hotel maintenance employees should always check sheets and mattresses for blood spots. Whenever a bed bug has recently fed, it fills with the victim’s blood. If the victim rolls over or moves and squishes the bug, the blood will be expelled and stain the bedding or mattress. Fresh red blood spots on sheets or mattresses could appear for any number of reasons. If a guest cut themselves somehow, blood stains could appear on the mattress. But when there are several small spots of blood combined with other evidence, it could be an indication of bed bug activity.
What Hotels Must do if Bed Bugs are Found in a Hotel Room
Hotel maintenance workers should take extra precautions when entering a room known to contain bed bugs. Appropriate treatments for bed bug infestations should be done by trained professionals. The most effective treatment involves heat. Pest control companies can provide equipment which can raise the temperature of a hotel room dramatically without damaging furniture or electronics. The room needs to be kept at a high temperature for several hours to ensure the destruction of bed bugs and their eggs.
However, it is not enough to simply bring in a heating element and let it run for hours. The rooms need to be properly prepared. This means that all drawers and doors need to be opened. Some pest control companies require hotel staff to stand mattresses and box springs on their sides so they are fully exposed to the heat. This type of treatment can be very expensive when taken into
consideration that several rooms will likely require this treatment. Most hotels will opt for temporary fixes that include chemical sprays and powders which are not totally effective. After a treatment like this is complete, it is very important to have a protocol in place to prevent future infestations. Staff training and routine inspections between room rentals will prevent guests from getting injured by bed bug bites.
What to Do if You Are Bitten By Bed Bugs in a Hotel
Hotels routinely fail in their obligations to keep their guests safe from bed bug bite injuries. You may be entitled to compensation if you have been injured at a hotel as a result of a bed bug infestation. Contact our office today to discuss your legal options.