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When Bedbugs Become Souvenirs

In the last few years, reports of bedbug infestations have popped up across the country in a variety of places. Nursing homes, schools, dorms, movie theaters, stores, offices, and even trains have had outbreaks. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) has been tracking the growing problem since 2010. The 2015 NPMA survey reveals that nearly all U.S. pest professionals have treated bedbugs in the past year, which is significantly higher than 15 years ago when only one quarter reported treating for bedbugs.

The continued rise in the bedbug population has been keenly felt by the hotel industry. So named because of their habitat preference of mattresses (they tend to hide close to where they feed), bedbugs don’t discriminate between hotel beds and those at home. They also live in furniture, clothing, and luggage, and are happy to relocate by hitching a ride in a traveler’s suitcase. They can affect anyone at any time and are not the result of poor housekeeping or poor hygiene.

About the size of an apple seed, bedbugs have been around for thousands of years, feeding on warm-blooded animals. These flat, oval, wingless insects tend to eat at night while their hosts are asleep, but they are not exclusively nocturnal and can survive for months without food. Bedbug bites are often all in a row and can take up to nine days to appear. More of a nuisance than a threat, bedbugs do not spread disease-causing germs, but can cause painful irritation and itching. Alarmingly, they are beginning to show evidence of increasing resistance to the insecticides that are most commonly used against them.

Tips for Avoiding Bedbugs at Hotels

  • Inspect the bed upon arrival, looking under the linens, under the mattress, and behind the headboard.
  • Keep your luggage off the ground in case bedbugs travel from another room.
  • For extra protection, wrap your suitcase in a plastic garbage bag.
  • If you suspect bedbugs, tell the management immediately and request a room at least two floors away.
  • Wash all the clothes in your suitcase in hot water when you get home.
  • If you think you’ve brought bedbugs home, call a professional exterminator.

Found in budget properties as well as luxury resorts, Florida officials cited 210 hotels for bedbug violations in 2013. An online public database of sightings where individuals can anonymously post their experiences shows almost 1,600 reports of hotel/motel bedbugs in Florida alone. Hotel property owners owe a legal duty to guests to make the premises habitable – and that includes being free from bedbugs. Lodging owners must reasonably inspect the property for bedbugs and remedy any bedbug problems. This is especially important due to the ease with which bedbugs can be transferred to the guest’s home, where the cost of eradication can be overwhelming.

If you think there are bedbugs in your hotel room:

  • Report the bedbugs to management before you leave the property.
  • If you see a bedbug, capture it and place it in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Take pictures of any bedbugs or evidence of them (e.g. stains, eggs, egg casings, blood streaks in the sheets where a bedbug was crushed, etc.).
  • Take pictures of any bites you have and see a doctor to document them.
  • Call the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 850-487-1395.

All hotel and motel guests have a right to accommodations that are suitable for human occupation. As one of South Florida's most respected and oldest law firms, Stabinski & Funt, P.A. has helped many people sort out their legal rights, responsibilities, and remedies. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families. We also work on a contingency basis, which means that if there is no recovery, there is no fee or cost to you. If you wish to learn more about how our firm can be of assistance to you, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a case evaluation form.

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