Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Unwelcomed Hotel Guests

Regardless of a hotel’s great location, the tasteful décor or the Egyptian cotton sheets, hotel guests have been more concerned with what they don’t want in their hotel room: bedbugs.

Let’s face it, they are unnerving hotel owners and grossing out travelers in the U.S. (reported in New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago), but we need to be objective about it, especially those of us that cannot avoid travel.

The scare of bed bugs has brought postings of bed bug sightings on different web sites, including Trip Advisor. The reality is that although bedbugs were moving like wildfire in the U.S. in the recent months, so were the stories about bedbugs, which in a lot of cases were not true.

All hotels are at risk, as it is not a sanitation issue. Bedbugs are brought into hotels by hotel guests, so going to a high end hotel will not decrease your chances of encountering bedbugs.

The truth is that the majority of hotels are bedbug free and there is vigilant staff trained to look for signs of bedbugs to reduce the risk of infestation.

The financial impact for those infested hotels is hard to assess, as it will cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars per room to get rid of infestation. The real impact may be psychological (guests not sleeping at night for fear of being bitten).

Bed bugs usually “hitchhike” their way around, they can come from clothing or furniture in contact with wild animals or areas infested with these bugs and their eggs.

Important information on bedbugs from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention:

· Their bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea and they are not know to transmit disease

· They can live several months without a blood meal

· They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards

· They tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep

How to check for bed bugs in your hotel and how to keep from bringing them home:

· Inspect your mattress, especially seams, headboard and bed frame (back and front making sure to check every hiding spot), pillows (uncover and check seams), as well as chairs, dressers and any furniture you may come into direct contact with. Report any sight of bed bugs to management immediately and repeat inspections for each new room.

· Check luggage racks and closet (including shelves), carpet edges around and near the bed.

· Before packing to leave, check luggage and inspect every item as you pack. Once home, unpack immediately and wash all clothes in luggage with detergent and hot water and dry in low heat for at least 20 minutes. Standard dry cleaning also kills the insects; however you may want to seal any dry clean items in a plastic bag to prevent from bugs getting out and onto other clothes. Check luggage again.


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