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Bed bugs discovered in Woodland Hills hotel

August 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Bed bugs were all but eradicated in the United States decades ago, but they have been making a big comeback.Two women from Tarzana say they stayed the night at an Extended Stay America hotel on Ventura Blvd. in Woodland Hills. They ended up in the emergency room Friday morning covered with bug bites.

"She wakes up, she pulls the sheets back -- just infested," said Tarzana resident Patchell Windom.

"It was terrifying is what it was. Both of us were in tears," said Tarzana resident Shayla Curley.

Windom and Curley say they were attacked by bed bug Thursday night at the hotel. They say they have the evidence to prove it: an armful of insect bites and video they took of the sheets.

According to Windom and Curley, the video shows remnants of bed bugs on the sheets.

The Tarzana couple said a power outage at their apartment building, along with the summer heat, prompted them to get a hotel room Thursday night. But they say they woke up in the middle of the night itching. They couldn't believe what they found.

"I was sleeping, I kept itching," said Windom. "I'm like, 'I cannot sleep.' I'm thinking I have scabies or something, scabies or crabs or something, because I just kept itching, so I wake up and I run to the bathroom, I turn on the light, and immediately on the floor there were the bed bugs. And then I go back to the bed and wake her up, and she wakes up and pulls the sheets back, and the bed is just covered. Just crawling everywhere."

Unfortunately, bed bugs are nothing new. Outbreaks have been reported on cruise ships, airplanes, even stores and a New York movie theater.

Federal officials say the recent plague of bed bugs prompted them to hold a conference Friday in Detroit with the hotel industry, which is now calling for more vigilance.

The insects can crawl into luggage or hitch a ride on clothes, and oftentimes they're not visible until it's too late.

The good news: the bites are not a health problem.

"They're very annoying, certainly. They can itch quite a bit and swell up and bother you quite a bit," said Dr. Stephen Jones, Northridge Hospital Medical Center. "And if you scratch them too much, you can cause an infection just by scratching the skin so much, but in terms of transmitting disease or causing any really significant problems, fortunately they're not really a public health problem."

Jones said if you happen to find bed bugs at home, a thorough cleaning of your bedding, the bed frame, the mattress and the nearest wall should do the trick.

As for Curley and Windom, they did receive a full refund from the manager at the hotel.

The manager wouldn't go on camera, but did say he was aware of the situation and was addressing it.

Curley and Windom are stuck with a bill for their emergency room visit.