A woman claims that she received over 200 bed bug bites during a one-night stay at a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Metro Public Health Department is investigating a claim made by Sue Silverstein, a woman who told The Tennessean that she received hundreds of bed bug bites while staying at the Howard Johnson hotel on Brick Church Pike in Nashville. Silverstein was in town from San Francisco to sell ukulele's at the National Music Merchant's convention.
Silverstein, 51, saw a few red spots on Wednesday morning after spending the night at the Howard Johnson hotel. However, after an afternoon nap, "I woke up and got a shock," Silverstein said. Her entire body was covered in the itchy bug bites. She found 200 marks on her legs, arms, hands and face.
Health inspector Clint Johnson confirmed that Silverstein's bites were from bed bugs. "I did see one bedbug - they are really hard to find. If you find one alive, you can assume there are more," Johnson said. "I've been on a couple complaints out there this year."
Johnson says that bed bugs are usually brought in by international travelers. He also inspected nearby bedrooms, but he did not find any other evidence of bed bugs.
Silverstein reports that the hotel staff was not very helpful about the issue. "The owner said, 'I cannot do anything. I can just give you the money and you check out,'" she told the Tennessean.
The hotel claims they are dealing with the situation after Silverstein left. Hotel owner Sam Patel wrote, "Unfortunately, bedbugs affect numerous businesses and industries every year, from hotels and restaurants to retail stores and movie theaters. What's important is that businesses take action once a situation has been brought to their attention. Upon notice by the guest, we immediately stopped selling the affected room and have already brought in experts to professionally examine and clean the room as necessary."
Silverstein won't choose the Howard Johnson hotel in the future, but she wouldn't mind returning to Nashville. "This is a very nice place - I love the people here," she told The Tennessean.
Greg Adkins, CEO of the Tennessee Hospitality Association said that people sometimes make false claims about bed bug bites just so they can get a free room. Some hotels use bed bug sniffing dogs to search rooms.
In 2011, the Nashville health department said that out of the 67 bed bug complaints that they received at hotels, only 20 of the cases were valid. "We have to see a live (bug) for us to consider it valid," Johnson said.