I've just discovered the Bed Bug Registry. I am delighted to make this discovery because I think about bed bugs a lot. Oh, its not just that they are everywhere in the news these days (warnings about hotels, used furniture, clothing store dressing rooms, etc). I have had two, yes TWO, bed bug experiences in my life and I really do not ever want to experience that again. Which is why I was freaked out when I started hearing the stories about bed bug incidents in places like New York, DC, London, Paris - places where I now travel. I am on my honeymoon and have been staying in many hotels in London, Paris, Bruges, Berlin, Basel. They have all been clean, very nice and highly recommended hotels, but don't think for a second that I wasn't still contemplating picking up the mattresses and inspecting. Especially at the one where we stayed in London. I didn't do it. But I thought about it.
My first bed bug incident was back in 1989 in Kenya. I was sleeping in a University of Nairobi dormitory room on a University mattress. Who knows how old it was and who all had slept on that little mattress. The idea of bed bugs had never, ever occurred to me. I thought I was having some kind of skin rash or being attacked by vicious mosquitos. When I learned what it was, I was pretty freaked out. Because I had been sleeping for quite awhile on that bed and it had been getting worse and worse...which means those things were feasting on me for weeks. Ughh. I shudder when I remember it.
Many years later, probably around 2006 or 2007 I was in India and traveled with some friends for a weekend up to Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, where the Dalai Lama lives. We stayed in a really nice guest house - probably one of the best places to stay there - and I stayed in a really nice cottage on the property. Each day I had more and more "mosquito bites" while my friends, staying in another room, were fine. After the third day I really started wondering what the heck was going on. Obviously my experience from 15 years earlier had escaped my memory. I went to a doctor when we arrived back in Delhi and he laughed and said I was just having a rash. Stupid doctor. A few days later I was home in Washington, DC and went to see another doctor because I wanted to know why I still had these bites. She took one look at me and pronounced - bed bugs. She was excited and called in her colleagues so they could see me - at that time I don't think patients with bed bug bites were very common in DC. She taught me what to look for in the future. I will never forget her words: "Breakfast, lunch, dinner. If you see three bites in a row, its likely to be bed bugs. They move along your body and feast on you that way." Nice.
Fortunately in both cases I got away from the infected areas, the bites healed, and most important of all I did not transport them home with me.
And now today, sitting in a hotel in Paris (bed bug free!), I learned about the the Bed Bug Registry. You can type in a city, address or hotel name in the US and see if anyone has reported a bed bug incident. Could be useful I suppose, particularly if there are repeat cases to indicate that a hotel isn't taking care of the problem.
A former boyfriend is a chef at a nice, respectable hotel in Washington, DC. He used to tell me that they had bedbug incidents sometimes. He said many, many hotels do. They can't help it. People bring them in. Then it becomes this huge issue to clean up the rooms. They have to shut down the room and sometimes all the rooms around it until they can get clean up teams in there to ensure its all gone. I know how difficult it is to get rid of those things.
For future hotel visits in the US I just might be utilizing this resource. For now, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite...
From the website: "The Bed Bug Registry is a free, public database of user-submitted bed bug reports from across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2006, the site has collected about 20,000 reports covering 12,000 locations."
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