KSAT Defenders: Bed bugs have steady presence in SA hotels

Complaints continue from all parts of town


A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation found that San Antonio Metro Health complaint records paint a chilling picture of bed bugs at area hotels and motels.

Stephen Barscewski, sanitarian services manager for Metro Health, said it is not just San Antonio that is seeing an increase in reports of bed bugs.

"We've seen a resurgence of bed bugs around the country," Barscewski said. "A female will lay one to five eggs a day while she's mature so the numbers can build up very fast."

They are being reported on all sides of San Antonio, according to documents provided by Metro Health.

At the Economy Inn on Loop 410 Southwest in September there were complaints of a bed bug infestation.

Live bed bugs were verified by the health department and bites were visible on an adult woman.

No one at the motel would comment.

The previous month there were complaints about the Ever-Kleen Motel on the south side.

The health department was called in and an inspector observed bed bugs.

The owner said there was a problem with bed bugs last year but that now there are no bed bugs and the motel is clean.

Another report was about a sighting at The Days Inn on East Houston, where room 251 had bed bugs.

All of these places took proper measures to control the biting insects.

"It's not good for anybody's business," Barscewski said. "Our numbers have been relatively stable the last couple years. The establishments for the most part have been pretty proactive on it."

Barscewski has advice for travelers checking in to a hotel or motel: put any suitcases on the bathroom counter when entering the room. Guests should then peel back the bedding to check for bed bugs in the mattress seams and the headboard or spots of blood.

"You're going to look either for mature bed bugs or nymphs that may be hiding," Barscewski said, adding that mature bed bugs look like a small apple seed. "One of the favorite places is behind the head board."

If bed bugs, their remains or eggs are visible, guests are advised to leave the room.

Barscewski said in the home environment it is best if residents do not try to exterminate bed bugs themselves.

"If you have an infestation in your home then the wisest thing to do is to call in a professional exterminator," Barscewski said. "You can cause a worse problem trying to treat them yourselves with foggers and sprays."

Barring that, he said bed bugs are killed by heat and cold.

"You can either throw your clothes and everything in your washing machine with the hottest water you have and a detergent," Barscewski said." (Or) spread your clothes out in your car. Leave it out in the sun for three or four hours. It gets 140 degrees in your car. They die in the cold and they die in the heat."

The good news is that there are no health dangers associated with bed bug bites except for a rash around the bite site.

John Clamp, executive director of the San Antonio Hotel & Lodging Association, released the following statement regarding bed bugs in San Antonio hotels:

"Our association considers guest safety, security and comfort our paramount concern. San Antonio area hotels are committed to upholding the very highest industry standards in this and other areas. Bed bugs in certain limited cases will be brought into a hotel and must be addressed. If there is a potential issue concerning bed bugs, the hotel operator typically calls an exterminator for evaluation and extermination and takes the affected areas out of use until the issue is completely addressed."

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