An article in the Vancouver Sun today gives hope for a committed response from the hotel industry, but, in what’s becoming the grand tradition of bedbug journalism, minimizes the effects of bed bug attacks on innocent travellers.
What’s good about the article? Well, it documents a concerted effort on the part of Vancouver hotels and a dedicated (probably money-hungry, but who cares?) PCO to learn about and control bedbug infestations. The author does a great job of acknowledging the detrimental effects, monitarily speaking, of bedbugs on hotels:
Nobody wants to admit they have them, but nobody can afford to pretend they couldn’t get them at any time. The recent resurgence of the bedbug has become a major issue for the reputation-sensitive hotel industry, where its bite can cause serious financial hemorrhage.
Later, the article defines the nature of the damage from the hotel chain’s perspective:
Hotels rely heavily on repeat business, and Jarvis said concerns about public health issues like bedbugs can be very damaging,
“You could have a customer who is a business traveller and spends 50 hotel-nights a year with one particular brand,” he said. “If they have one incident, their likelihood of returning to that brand is fairly small, and the financial impact of that is very significant.
“So we see all of the major brands really reacting in quite a big way to this.”
Concern over potential lawsuits, particularly in the U.S., has led many hotel chains to re-examine their policies in regard to bedbugs in order to make sure they are doing all they can to prevent or eradicate them.
It’s a relief to know that hotels are becoming more aware of the potential for bedbug infestations, and are taking serious measures to combat and eliminate them. This is great news, and is going to become more and more necessary as people are bitten and lawsuits are filed.
That’s the upside of the article. The downside? The author seems to think that the general public overreacts to bedbugs. In fact, the author says
[A bedbug is] a tiny, blood-sucking pest capable of inspiring disproportionate horror… The idea of blood-sucking insects attacking people while they sleep seems to create a primal horror, although bedbugs do not pass on disease and their bites often go unnoticed.
Bedbug bites often go unnoticed? Sometimes, but not when you get five hundred in a single night, as this Chicago woman did at a hotel in Ellenville, NY. Or, for that matter, when you are bitten 600 times and your children suffer five hundred bites A PIECE in one night, as Eunice Juarez and her family were at the Fairfield Inn Anaheim Disneyland Resort. Check out the graphic pictures in these articles, and then tell me that bedbugs inspire “disproportionate horror.”
The San Fransisco Department of Public Health obviously doesn’t think bedbug infestations at hotels are at all blown out of proportion by the public. In fact, the city developed this plan of action specifically for hotels, and has enforced it as a code of public health. Why? Not because bedbugs create “disproportionate horror,” but because bedbug infestations are serious matters- they spread quickly, they are highly transmittable, and they are financially devastating, and not just for hotels.
I wonder if the author of this article would be up to spending a night or two in an infested room? I wonder if the thought of getting hundreds of bites from a parasite that feeds solely on humans would be a little horrific? I wonder, particularly, how horrified the author would be to learn that bedbugs are easily transported, and the possibility of taking them home from an infested hotel room is pretty good? I would bet that the author would be, well, horrified at the thought of having bedbugs in his or her bed for the month or two it takes to eliminate an infestation from a home. And I’d say that horror would be… Proportionate.