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Sleep Tight… Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

The conclusion of that rhyme has been told to children for countless years, always without a second thought.  Until recently, when the bed bugs really did begin to bite.

There has been a marked increase in reported cases of “bed bugs,” tiny little creatures that multiply quickly, are difficult to eradicate, and can have a tormenting effect on those with the misfortune of dealing with them.

It has been reported that the number of cases of bed bug infestation has doubled over the past several years in the United States and Europe.  These little creatures feed on blood, are difficult if not impossible to see before feeding, and generally leave the “victim” with a number of bite-type irritations. Generally, bed bugs are not thought to be harmful, and while there have been claims of allergic reactions by some, the primary effect of bed bugs on victims is the mental anxiety caused by the knowledge of bed bug infestation.

Bed bugs are most common in hotels and large apartment buildings.  Owners, having a general duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition (and wishing to avoid department of health violations), have taken lengthy steps to attempt to eradicate bed bugs when discovered, and action must be taken very quickly to avoid quick multiplication by the insects.  Remediation efforts may include application of chemical compounds to the affected areas, as well as use of heat and steam vacuum, all at a fairly large cost to a hotel or property owner.  Such owners likely consider such remediation a worthwhile investment, as the negative publicity of a report of bed bugs, or even a lawsuit by infected guests, can be severely damaging to a business.  In some cases, owners have been reported to have used dogs to sniff out infestation.

As a guest, you have the right to expect a room free from any little creatures.  A hotel that has any knowledge of infestation, yet continues to allow guests without reasonable and adequate warning, is taking a large risk.  Infected guests have brought lawsuits in several states, seeking damages for injuries associated with their exposure, and likely emotional damages as well.  With bed bug infestations on the rise this is likely to increase, and the resultant damages, as well as the negative PR, should place owners on notice to take corrective steps at the first sign of a problem.


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