Rockford, IL: half of Red Roof Inn shut down due to bed bugs

by nobugsonme on October 23, 2007 · 7 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bug treatment in hotels, bed bugs, bed bugs in hotels, health department, illinois, motels

According to the Rockford Register Star, the Winnebago County Health Department in Rockford, Illinois shut down 56 of 108 rooms in a Red Roof Inn in Rockford, due to bed bugs. The Health Department came to inspect after a customer collected samples of bed bugs from the bed in a room he stayed in:

Health department inspectors were called to the East State Street and Bell School Road hotel after a guest found the tiny bugs crawling in the sheets of his bed. The inspectors closed 56 out of 108 rooms.

Dixon resident Robert McLean said he first spotted the little brown bugs on his sheets when he woke up Friday. Initially, he saw three or four bugs, but he said a search of the mattress revealed countless more, some of which he collected on pieces of clear tape.

“It was like a Halloween nightmare,” McLean said. “You almost want to bring your own bedding from now on.”

Unfortunately, bringing your own bedding will not prevent bed bugs. You’d have to bring your own building, frankly, and set it up over there, away from the hotel.

McLean said he reported the bugs to the hotel’s front desk, who sent a maintenance crew to look at the bugs. They took pictures, McLean said.

The hotel shut down the 56-room wing for 48 hours, during treatment, and will keep the room the guest was in closed for 5 days. However, we know that one traditional bed bug treatment is rarely enough. I hope the Red Roof Inn is being very aggressive with treatments. I would love to hear from PCOs as to what protocol they would follow in a hotel. After all, when individuals have bed bugs at home, we have to sleep in the room to draw the bed bugs out to cross the pesticides. If hotels are using traditional spray treatments, won’t customers be forced to sleep with bed bugs?!?

One also has to wonder how many other people were bitten in this hotel, and reported the bed bug bites. Or did not realize it and took them home. Could this much of a hotel be affected and the hotel be completely unaware of it?

Winnebago County appears to be inviting anyone with bed bugs in that area to call and report them to the Health Department:

[Winnebago County Health Department spokeswoman Sue] Fuller said anyone who finds bed bugs are asked to call the Winnebago County Health Department at 815-720-4100 to file a complaint.

This is interesting — I have not heard many city health departments invite such calls.

This story reinforces my idea that those who find bed bugs in hotel rooms should not simply tell the management, and then post a review on tripadvisor.com to warn others. They should also call the local health department (a number they can get via the room’s phone book, before they flee). Health departments may not consider bed bugs a health risk, but they should. And if enough people call, they may take action.

Update (11/2): the Rockford Register Star now reports the rooms are now reopened–except for the one where the bed bugs are found.

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1 Maciej Ceglowski October 24, 2007 at 12:17 am

If you’ll excuse the self-promotion, people should also post to the Bedbug Registry about hotel encounters. When there’s a bit more data, I’m hoping to compile a best/worst list of the various national chains as far as refund policies and management responsiveness, in hopes that exposing the extent of the problem will help other travelers out. Right now there seems to be no clear policy in place as to refunds or helping pay for laundry/alternative lodgings, and a number of hotels will just flat-out deny the problem exists.

2 nobugsonme October 24, 2007 at 1:20 am

Definitely, Maciej. Thanks for the reminder.

Reporting to the Bed Bug Registry, reviewing on tripadvisor.com, and calling the health department in the hotel’s vicinity are three steps travelers should take after finding bed bugs in a hotel.

3 parakeets October 24, 2007 at 9:30 am

And you can also report to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. That group, in minimizing the bedbug problem in US hotels, claimed how few reports they get of bedbugs in hotels. So we can let them know!

4 Rick October 29, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Why do you assume that all those rooms had evidence of bedbugs when you have nothing to support that? Perhaps you should consider the possibility that the health dept. overreacted before misleading people.

5 nobugsonme October 29, 2007 at 7:01 pm

Rick,

Where do you see us “assuming that all those rooms had evidence of bed bugs?”

Perhaps you can show me where in the post above–or, for that matter, any of the comments that followed–any of us have made such an assumption. I can’t see it.

No one here is misleading anyone. In fact, we’re just blogging a story that appeared in the local news media.

If anyone has another take on that story, based on experience or evidence, we’d be glad to hear it.

I will say this– while I can imagine situations where an individual “invents” a bed bug story and produces his/her own specimens, I can’t imagine the health dept. ordering half of a motel to close unless there were other evidence present.

6 hopelessnomo October 30, 2007 at 9:05 pm

Rick,

I think it’s a tough time for hotels, no question.

However, did you look at the photographs that accompanied the news story about this particular hotel? A lot of people here have bedbugs for months and never see such clear evidence.

Asking whether the health department overreacted is not a very useful question. Here are some better ones: when was the last time that one room, forget the whole wing, received a professional pest control inspection? Does the hotel have an inspection and treatment protocol in place? Does the pest control firm contracted for this purpose have the right approach? In other words, do they know what they are doing? Is the staff trained to recognize the signs of an infestation? Do they know what to do, and what not to do, if any signs are present?

I don’t expect hotels never to get bedbugs. I only want this: a) never rent me a room knowing that it is infested, and b) have a smart bedbug plan already in place.

We care about these things. Persons like you who are interested in the industry would do well to read at least two entries here: how the smart guy does it and how the dumb guy does it.

All the best…

7 nobugsonme November 2, 2007 at 4:10 am

Update (11/2): the Rockford Register Star now reports the rooms are now reopened–except for the one where the bed bugs are found. It has its furniture removed and it’s being replaced, before the room can be reopened.

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