What is bothering both the Hawaiian Legislature and the Catskills? Bedbugs.
Bedbugs are back in America and people are reacting. Things have gone so far as a bill being introduced in the Hawaii Senate proposing measures to guard against bedbugs.
A recent story from the Catskills involves a Chicago woman suing a hotel -- seeking $20 million -- because she claims to have been badly bitten during a three night stay. The problem is growing and so are the number lawsuits. Bedbugs once were widespread. But aggressive use of pesticides eradicated them from most households.
The tiny insects -- about the size of a poppy seed -- are aptly named, because they live in beds, bed furniture, and mattresses. They generally attack while targets are sleeping -- feeding on blood through tiny bites. These bites are so small, they are painless, but they leave lesions that can become infected or cause allergic reactions -- similar to that of a mosquito.
Doctors recommend that you don't scratch the bites, but use antihistamines and even calamine lotion to reduce the itch.
Luckily these bites are not known to transmit infectious diseases, though the simple fact that they prey on human blood -- and can bite numerous people if they live in a hotel mattress -- could mean that the real extent of this problem is unknown.
Bedbugs can be carried into hotels and homes by luggage or anything else that can physically carry the critters and their little eggs. Once inside, they can migrate through cracks to other rooms -- just as do roaches.
Whether justified or not, lawsuits are mounting. Landlords may have a legal duty to respond to bedbug complaints, and tenants may have certain legal obligations and rights as well. These issues are dependent on local laws. As cases are decided, these obligations will become better defined.
Hotel operators certainly have certain legal obligations that are owed to their guests. Since many recent cases have reportedly taken place in hotels, this warrants particular attention by hotel operators.
If you are visiting a hotel, look for signs of bedbug infestation. This is a difficult task, because besides small amounts of insect fecal matter and blood stains, they are almost impossible to see. Fecal deposits appear as small black or dark brown spots. An odor might also suggest infestation. Your best guard is to use caution whenever ever staying away from home.