This article from Walla Walla, Washington’s Union-Bulletin, offers the standard “local story on bed bugs.”
It begins with Al Grable, local Pest Control Operator (PCO):
While there have apparently been no official bedbug complaints lodged against any Walla Walla county motels, local residents can’t rest easily.
Al Grable, owner of Agreeable Pest Control in College Place, knows better. The pest expert has treated apartments, homes and motels throughout the area. And, although he declined to name the hospitality facilities, one was severly infested, he found. “And it was one of the better ones.”
When it comes to bugs, Grable gives legs to his profession. He taught entomology at Walla Walla College for 28 years and has vanquished pests for 15 years since retirement from teaching. He is certified with the Entomological Society of America and a member of the National Pest Management Association.
His first case of bedbugs came about four years ago, catching him by surprise, Grable remembered.
Clearly, local motels do have bed bugs, and Grable is treating them. But not one customer has called the local health department to complain about this. That may be because it doesn’t occur to travelers to do so.
Those planning travel in Washington can get some help, said Shannon Walker with the Washington state Department of Health. Her office inspects and oversees lodging businesses throughout the state.
With the increased publicity about bedbugs, her desk is crawling with requests for hotel and motel inspection reports. People want to about any multi-legged guests before making a reservation, she said from her office in Olympia.
Many consumers are unaware they can get such information or lodge their own complaint with the state, Walker said. “I’ll take a complaint in any way. They can call me, they can e-mail, they can fax it.”
No one will make a pest out of themselves in doing so, she promised. “I love it when people call me.”
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
If you encounter bedbugs while lodged in Washington, the state Department of Health wants to know, at (800) 633-6828, by fax at (360) 236-2901 or at shannon.walker @doh.wa.gov.
There is no centralized location for such information in Oregon; travelers must check with each county health department.
This article focuses on the Washington State Health Department as a place to report hotel bed bugs, as well as a place to check whether a hotel has bed bugs before you stay there. (Don’t assume that a hotel with no bed bug reports is bed bug free, though, since obviously everyone does not yet know to report them in this way.)
We haven’t really seen local health authorities inviting the public to enquire about bed bugs, or report bed bugs, in this way. But now that I read this, I am inclined to think that anyone who has experienced bed bugs in a hotel or motel should not only report them to the hotel or motel, but also to the county and/or state health departments.
If you encounter bed bugs in a Washington State hotel or motel, call the health department listed above. If you encounter them in another state, find out what county you are staying in, and google the county health department, as well as the state health department, to notify them of your experience. Doing so is not about revenge. It’s about letting others know where bed bugs lurk. And with the government, it’s about letting them know how bad the problem is–so we can all get some help with this. The government needs to know our concerns.
Travelers should also post a review on tripadvisor.com which details their experience in the particular hotel. This warns others of your experiences. I always check tripadvisor before I book a hotel, and I follow up once in the hotel by carefully searching the room for bed bugs (David’s video here gives a good demonstration).