A woman who said she was bitten by bedbugs during a stay at a local motel said she was aggravated to learn that the motel was under no obligation to inform her of the infestation when she booked a room.
Bedbugs are tiny insects that feed on human blood and tend to be located in sleeping areas. Their bites are believed to pose little health risk but can cause anxiety and discomfort in those who have been bitten. The bugs can attach themselves to clothing and luggage, making hotels an easy target for infestation.
To add to the ick factor, the bugs can live up to a year without feeding, meaning that even vacant homes or used furniture can serve as their habitat.
The Mohave County Health Department's Environmental Division confirmed that there is no state law in Arizona requiring hotels to inform guests of the presence of bedbugs.
Brook Hernandez said she received more than 20 bites over her body during an extended stay at a local hotel earlier this month. She and her husband were staying at the hotel after being forced out of their rental home because of a bad roof.
Hernandez didn't realize until several days into her stay that she had been bitten. Two of her three children also had bites. Her husband and a third child did not have any bites.
After noticing the bites, Hernandez said she and her husband pulled back the headboard of the bed and said they found numerous bugs and their eggs.
They said when they confronted the owners about the situation, they admitted to knowing about the infestation. The couple said they saw a pest control agent on the property while they were checking out.
The owner of the motel said they were informed by the couple of the bugs, but found no evidence of them in the room the family stayed in or any other room. An inspector with the Environmental Health Division said none were found on his March 14 visit that was prompted by the couple's complaints.
Because the Health Department did not find any evidence of infestation, the Miner has elected not to name the hotel.
The owner of the hotel told the Miner she offered the couple half of their money back for the second week of the two-week stay. That amounted to about $60 of the $195 the couple paid.
The owner added that the motel sprays regularly for bugs and other pests each month.
Hernandez said the experience made her sick to her stomach. She also experienced an allergic reaction to the bites that involved swelling and pain.
"I don't ever want to stay at another hotel again," she said.
The Mohave County Health Department said it has received fewer than a half-dozen reports of bedbugs in the last two years and that only half of those reports could be verified. The department also said that it follows up with complaints and makes sure that a pest control company visits when evidence of the bugs are found.
Although there is no law when it comes to hotels and bedbugs, the Arizona legislature last year passed a law preventing landlords from renting a unit known to be infested with bedbugs and also requires the tenants to notify landlords of the bugs' presence if found.
Cleaning infected areas can help, but professional treatment is recommended when it comes to bedbugs.