Bedbugs in Whitehorse a 'nuisance,' but not a public health risk, officials say
'It's not just a problem in Whitehorse — bedbugs are an issue across the country'
Yukon health officials say bedbugs are a "nuisance," but not a serious public health risk in the territory.
Stories of bedbugs at some Whitehorse hotels have been posted on social media in recent weeks. People have described being bitten and finding the bugs in their hotel rooms.
CBC contacted one local hotel that's been mentioned in the posts, but management declined to respond.
Bedbugs are like hitchhikers that spread most easily in multi-unit buildings such as condos, apartments, and hotels. They can get into people's luggage when travelling.
"We are aware that there are issues with bedbugs," said Tracey Kinsella, environmental health officer with Yukon government.
"It's not just a problem in Whitehorse — bedbugs are an issue across the country ... they are a nuisance."
She says bedbugs are not a public health risk because they do not spread disease.
"Bedbugs are attracted to the carbon dioxide when people are breathing, exhaling at night. So they often hide and come out at night to feed while people are asleep."
She says bedbug bites usually appear in threes.
"You would have three bites in an area. But some people don't react to bedbug bites, and while others may have a skin reaction."
Kinsella says bedbugs don't discriminate — you might find them in a five-star hotel, or a cheaper motel.
'They will find your bed'
Matthew Wright is with Orkin Canada, a pest control service with offices across the country. He says bedbugs can reproduce quickly and are hard to get rid of.
Wright said Orkin has had calls from hotels in Whitehorse for bedbug removal, and it's not an easy process.
The company uses chemicals and heat treatments that can't be purchased in stores.
"You throw your luggage and the clothes on the floor of the hotel, and then they crawl into your luggage. And then you unpack your stuff at home, and then they will find your bed, basically — and that whole process starts all over again," Wright said.
Bedbugs are night feeders. During the day, they'll hide in a mattress, in nightstands, or even a pillow.
Wright advises people to remember that bugs can get in their luggage, and travel home with them. Use the luggage stand in your hotel room, he says.
"That'll help deter them from crawling into your luggage. And then just do an inspection," he said.