Hotels and campuses fight bed bug 'pandemic' in the Ozarks
Story by Cara Restelli, KY3 News
September 15, 2010 —
Hitching a ride on pant legs, shirt collars and suitcases, bed bugs are making their way across the country and making a stop right here in the Ozarks. President of the Branson Lakes Area Lodging Association Lee Thomas won't say where they've been found but admits they've been found in some Branson hotels. "We want folks to realize that this is something practically impossible to prevent," he said.
He also wants you to know it's not the hotel's fault. "They hide, they're in crevices, They come out only at night. So they're a difficult situation to spot," said Thomas.
"It certainly is becoming what our industry calls a pandemic. We've got studies on a nationwide level that shows 80% of hotels have bed bugs," said Kevin Lemasters with Schendel Pest Services. He wants you to know that hotels are victims of these elusive bugs, just like dorm rooms, apartments and even some homes. In fact, Missouri state has been finding them for months. "We treat about 3 to 5 rooms monthly," said Jennifer Cox with Missouri State University.
But while there's little you can do to prevent them, MIssouri state is trying to fight them, not with chemicals, but through education. Missouri state is teaching residence hall advisors what to look for and hotels are using those workers who are at the front lines - housekeepers. "We've asked them to look for evidence. That would be shells and feces," said Gail Myer, a Branson hotel owner.
While helpful, they still know all the knowledge in the world may still not be enough to keep the bed bugs out. "The frustrating part is that we have no control. If somebody were to bring it in, all we can do is identify it as quickly as possible, take care of the problem and be done with it," said Thomas.
If you're planning to travel, there is a way you can find out if your hotel might have had bed bugs. There's a bed bug registry online where customers can report cases of bed bugs. We should emphasize these have not been confirmed by health officials.