Bed bugs reported at local motel

Published 8:43 pm Saturday, September 20, 2014

Two travelers who stayed at a Suffolk motel recently have reported being bitten numerous times by bed bugs.

A health department inspection at the EconoLodge on Holland Road in response to one of the complaints found live bed bugs in Room 224, according to a report provided by the Suffolk Health Department.

But the manager of the hotel said customers sometimes claim they found bed bugs in their room to get out of paying for the stay.


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“Unfortunately, that’s the way it is,” R.J. Shah said.

Eric Sykes called the health department after staying in Room 224 from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1, then staying in a different room for one night.

“They need to be held to account for what they have done,” Sykes said.

After three nights at the hotel, Sykes first noticed bumps on his forearm. By the next day, they were worse, and he began to suspect they were caused by bed bugs, he said.

When he complained to the management, they suggested he had chicken pox or fleas, Sykes said.

Even so, they gave him bug spray to use in his room, and then he switched rooms. After looking online and finding pictures of bed bug bites that matched what he was experiencing, he says he told the management he had left his cellphone charger in his prior room to get back in.

Using his tablet, he took what he says are pictures and a video of a crawling bedbug that he found when he lifted all the sheets off the bed — he had slept only under the comforter — and lifted the mattress off the box spring.

On the last night of his stay and later on the day he checked out, he went to two different hospitals and was given diagnoses of dermatitis and scabies. About a week after checking out, he reported the case to the health department.

Another customer, Janice Clark, says she would have called the health department if she had known they were the ones to call.

She stayed in Room 114 on Sept. 2-6 and woke up in the middle of the night to find her forehead and eyes were swollen. After going back to sleep, she woke up again with a swollen lip and shoulder.

“Something said, ‘Get up,’” she said. “That’s when I saw it crawling on the pillow.”

Worried about getting bit on her arm, where she has complications from a past cancer treatment, she went to the emergency room and called her doctor at home in New Jersey. She visited the doctor after she returned home.

She said her fiancé found some of the bugs and captured them in a water bottle.

“I’m just paranoid, because I’m hoping I didn’t bring none of them things home to my house,” she said. “My luggage and stuff, I threw away. I can’t sleep. This is something I don’t wish on my enemy.”

She said she wants to be reimbursed for her medical bills and for her stay there.

Shah said Sykes showed him a bug in the same small bottle at both the Days Inn down the street, which he also manages, and at the EconoLodge, which made him suspicious.

But Shah called a pest control company anyway, and paid $400 for the two visits.

“We want to take care of our property,” he said.

The company’s report, which he showed to the News-Herald, notes that one live bed bug was found in Room 224 and that it and adjoining rooms were sprayed. After a follow-up visit, they gave the all-clear, Shah said. He showed the News-Herald to Room 224, which still had the box springs and mattresses overturned due to the spraying.

“Bedbugs are everywhere,” Shah said.

In the last three months, only two reports of bed bugs have been received by the health department, said Jay Duell, environmental health manager.

The other one was in August at the now-shuttered Red Carpet Inn on North Main Street.

“We do not get any frequent complaints,” Duell said, adding that two reports in three months is a usual number. “I would not say that we deal with it a lot.”

Duell said the health department inspectors usually inspect the room that is the subject of the complaint as well as all adjoining rooms.

“We would recommend to the establishment that they contact a pest control operator, a professional, who can help them with any treatment that’s necessary,” Duell said.

Travelers can check their own rooms by looking along the seams of the mattress, behind the beds and on the box spring, he said.

“It’s somewhat difficult, because there’s a lot of places that bed bugs can hide,” Duell said. “While you can look for them, you kind of would have to tear the room down in order to really check.”

Duell also added most local establishments work closely with the health department, and that having bed bugs does not necessarily mean the hotel is not clean.

“Bed bugs are notorious hitchhikers,” Duell said. “They can latch hold to somebody’s luggage, and they could carry them from one hotel to the next hotel. It’s not a description, so to speak, of how clean or not clean your hotel is. It can happen in the nicest hotel; it can happen in the least expensive hotel.

“I wouldn’t be afraid to go anyplace,” he added. “Most of our establishments try to work with us as they have a problem and treat their facilities.”