Watch Out For Bedbugs When Traveling

The next time you’re in a hotel, whether it’s a cheap day-rate one for your sad little affair or a luxurious business suite that the company has unwittingly paid for, check to see whether the mattress has an “allergy free” cover on it—it’s a codeword for “bedbug-proof.” Also, if you see trained beagles roaming the hotel sniffing out mold, there’s a good chance the “mold” is another codeword for “bedbug.” Hotels are quietly doing their best to locate and exterminate the insects to protect themselves from particularly vengeful lawsuits—but since an infestation can occur anywhere (it has nothing to do with “cleanliness” or sanitation), it’s a tough battle to win.

So, how worried should you be? First, the scarequote:

A study by the Steritech Group, a commercial and institutional pest management company, found that nearly 25% of the 700 hotels it tracked over a three-and-a-half year period between November, 2002, and April, 2006, required treatment for bedbugs.

The truth of the matter, though, is that obviously not every room in a hotel had an infestation; the same study said that less than 1% of the 76,000 rooms in those hotels were infested. It’s a real problem, but certainly not yet a common one.

For whatever reason, bedbug infestations have been on the rise in homes, apartments, and hotels over the past several years, and don’t show any sign of abating—so all those commenters who are about to complain that we’re scaremongering, well, we’re not! We’re simply pointing out that you may want to take some precautions when traveling. Look at sites like this one for information on how to spot signs of bedbug activity and what to do with your luggage if you think you were exposed. It’s expensive and time-consuming to get rid of an infestation in your home or apartment, so a little precaution might be worth it.

“The Cost of Bedbugs” [BusinessWeek]

(Photo: Getty)