Health Dept. reveals local hotel bed bug complaints

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It’s a story you saw first on WEAU 13 News, bed bugs showing up in local hotels.

Now the Eau Claire City-County Health Department reveals which Eau Claire hotels have had complaints about the bugs.

The Health Department said it has gotten bed bug complains about the Rodeway Inn on Hastings Way and the Days Inn on Craig Road.

These reports show how both hotels took quick action to control their bed bug problems.

But the Health Department said it’s important to remember that just because a hotel has the bugs, it doesn’t mean they’re dirty.

“They can get into small cracks and crevasses and crawl out in the place they stop at and quite frequently that is a hotel,” said Courtenay Johnson, the Director of Environmental Health.

A complaint about the Rodeway Inn, filed with the Health Department by a guest claims they found six bed bugs on their bed.

Another complaint about the Days Inn on Craig Road showed bed big sniffing dogs looking for the blood sucking pests.

Both documents show the hotels took swift action.

“I haven’t seen a hotel or heard of one anywhere else that's allowed a bed bug infestation to persist,” Johnson said.

The Rodeway Inn’s manager, Sally Jo Birtzer said in a statement:

"Although the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) estimates there has been an increase in bed bugs in America over the last several years, the increase has had a minimal impact on the vast majority of hotels. Bed bugs are brought into hotels by guests; it is not a hotel sanitation issue. Education, awareness, and vigilance are critical. A trained and knowledgeable housekeeping staff is one of the best lines of defense, along with having regular pest control inspections as we have in place at the Rodeway Inn and Suites."

The Director of Environmental Health said there’s no link between bed bugs and hotel cleanliness and an infestation can pop up anywhere.

“Bed bugs hitch a ride on luggage, clothing; anything that people travel with,” Johnson said.

She said they can multiply very rapidly and as long as a room is being occupied they can take their blood meals and continue to reproduce.

“Bed bugs can live from anywhere from 9 months to a year without a blood meal,” Johnson said.

Days Inn management said they’re working on a statement.


EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- After invading houses and apartment buildings in other states, bed bugs are hitting up hotels in the Chippewa Valley.

The owner of the Baymont Inn & Suites in Eau Claire said they’re looking into a case where a customer complained about seeing bed bugs Thursday night.

On Friday, WEAU 13 News talked with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department about our area’s bed bug problem.

Courtenay Johnson, the Director of Environmental Health, said bed bugs in hotels are nothing new.

“We have received a couple of complaints on hotels in this past year,” Johnson said.

Although the Health Department has authority to shut a building down if it’s infested with the creepy crawlies, Johnson said it’s up to a business to contact them if they have bed bugs.

“They’re required to take care of them if they find them but there is no reporting requirement,” Johnson said.

Bed bugs are a parasitic insect about the size of an apple seed.

While the bugs do pose a public health concern, Johnson said there’s no evidence they carry disease.

She said bites can cause allergic reactions and secondary infections.

Dax Patel, the owner of the Baymont Inn said management is taking the matter very seriously and have contacted the Health Department.

“We don’t know if it’s bed bugs yet. She complained last night. We’re investigating whether it was bed bugs or something else,” Patel said.

Johnson said you can keep the blood-sucking bugs out of your house by checking out the hotels you rest your head at.

“Check the mattresses, cracks and crevasses. Protect luggage; launder everything using hot water and high heat dryer settings. You can take care of it before it infests your home,” Johnson said.

WEAU 13 News called several different hotels in Eau Claire and didn’t find any other bed bug problems.

Paperwork detailing which hotels in the area have had bed bug complaints should be available next week.

Count on and WEAU 13 News for continuing coverage of this Consumer Alert.

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  • by Sharon Location: Eau Claire on Oct 17, 2011 at 07:37 PM
    Bed bugs aren't just in hotels - you can get them trying on clothes in stores, shopping at thrift sales, acquiring used mattresses or upholstered furniture, etc. They are CALLED bed bugs but they are not exclusive to beds. I have even heard of them living in the carpet of empty rental apartments.
    • reply
      by housekeeping on Oct 19, 2011 at 02:12 PM in reply to Sharon
      i agree, plus they can can hop a ride with you from a rental car, taxi,bus, etc. or show up in you next fedex pkg you ordered from anywhereville!
  • by Ben Location: Eau Claire on Oct 15, 2011 at 09:25 PM
    Have you ever seen the "hotels" in Eau Claire? Run down, cheaply furnished, outdated, poorly staffed, unclean, crappy food and beverage outlets...I'm surprised we don't have more reports of rats.
  • by rml Location: Eau Claire on Oct 15, 2011 at 07:41 PM
    Hotels need to start washing all blankets and all bedspreads after each guest leaves. As it is now, they rarely get's disgusting, and I imagine not many people realize how often bedspreads and blankets do not even get changed at all after a guest leaves, let alone actually washed.
    • reply
      by me on Oct 15, 2011 at 10:37 PM in reply to rml
      Bed bugs do not come from not washing blankets, they come from people bring them in. and once they are there they multiply. There has been many hotels in the Eau Claire Area that have had them so lets look at the problem with all of them not just the Baymont.
      • reply
        by Tommy on Oct 17, 2011 at 07:42 PM in reply to me
        I think what rml was saying was that bedding is not washed after each guest, so, if guest #1 brings in the bed bugs on his/her items, guests #2 and #3 may end up bringing them home. Washing all of the linens as each guest leaves could reduce or prevent an investation and transmission from guest to guest (and hotel to home).
  • by Mike Taylor on Oct 15, 2011 at 05:04 PM
    See my “bed bug dog Lillie” finding bed bugs on YouTube
  • by Cc Location: Ec on Oct 15, 2011 at 03:19 AM
    The reporter called hotels and thought they would actually say if they had bed bugs? That's like "marketing suicide" if you admit you do! The only way you'll actually know is if people report to the health department and they confirm or deny after actual inspection. I had a friend that travelled extensively and took her own bedding for the bed. Extreme? Maybe not! I know from experience, bedspreads might get washed once/mth, blankets and pillow protectors twice per month, sheets at end of guests stay, unless requested otherwise, and this was a higher level motel.
  • by jim Location: ec on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:18 PM
    This comment has been deleted.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Oct 15, 2011 at 07:29 AM in reply to jim
      Jim you are so smart figuring it out. Indian=indian food, including curry=bed bugs. Brilliant!
      • reply
        by duke on Oct 15, 2011 at 10:49 PM in reply to
        Well blame it on people from india please grow up. The people who stay in hotels need to learn to protect themselves and do some homework on it. I looked up many hotels in the Eau Claire area and seen many name so be are just going to pick one one hotel. Know what to look for when you get a hotel room anywhere and make sure if you leave one hotel and go to another you are not bringing them with you 9/10 times you are or takeing them home. Do some research there are 5 star hotels that have bed bugs...
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