Bed Bug Complaint Unfounded
Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A viewer called the Eyewitness News tipline after finding a  bedbug in her room at a local motel. She said when she brought the bug to the attention of management, she was met with a chilly reception.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, stayed the night at the E-Z 8 Motel on Buck Owens Boulevard on Dec. 17. When she woke up in the morning, she found the bug in the bed.

"It was just right there on the sheets, crawling," the woman said. "So we put it in a bag and went to the front desk, and we spoke with the general manager, and he basically said that we put it there and didn't take us seriously at all."

The woman said she did a little research on bedbugs and became concerned that when she left the hotel she would be taking the pests with her.

According to chief environmental health specialist Brian Pitts with the Kern County Health Department, her concerns are well founded.

"Bedbugs travel with people. That's how they are disseminated. They get on people's clothes, they get on their luggage and they are not all that unusual in hotel rooms," Pitts said.

In addition to the bug, the woman said she spotted mattresses stacked in the motel's parking lot near a dumpster. When she asked the hotel staff why they were there, the staff reportedly told her they were old and needed to be thrown away. The mattresses were not part of a bedbug infestation, they said.

Motel management declined to go on camera for an interview, but guests are speaking out in defense of the establishment. "Chris" travels from the Midwest to California for work and has been staying at the E-Z 8 on-and-off for 14 years with no problems.

"No, no never any pests like that, no," Chris said. "It's clean, it's well-managed and all I can say is the management and the employees really care about their jobs from what I've seen."

Pitts said hotels aren't the only places bedbugs can be found and warns that movie theaters are another venue for the bugs to set up shop. While bedbugs can be frustrating, it's one of the challenges that comes along with managing a hotel.

"For any hotel owner, this is something that they have to worry about. Their rooms could be perfectly clean tonight, then, just depending on luck, if the people are carrying bedbugs, then they can hop off luggage or hop off people, and then they are in that room," Pitts said.

Management at the E-Z 8 said they take any suspicion of bedbugs very seriously.

The Kern County Health Department said it will investigate the motel, and Eyewitness News will follow up with the department on what it finds.