Bed bug hitches ride on Halifax bus, forcing commuter to strip down in snow

HALIFAX -- A commuter has discovered a bed bug on a city transit bus, in what an expert says is a disturbing reminder of the potential range of the hardy, hitchhiking insects.

See Full Article

Jason Johnson took a photo of the bug Monday on a Halifax Transit bus - then bolted home, stripped down in the snow and put his clothes in bags, fearing they might be contaminated with the biting, blood-loving pests or their eggs.

"You feel them crawling on you when they're not there," Johnson, 37, said Wednesday.

One pest-control expert says he's surprised it doesn't happen more often. Despite their name, bed bugs aren't just found between the sheets.

John Zinck, a 20-year veteran in the extermination business, said the bugs can congregate anywhere people do: offices, movie theatres, doctor's officers and public buses. They can hitch rides on clothing, bags and items like books.

"I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often in Halifax," said Zinck, branch manager for Orkin Canada in Nova Scotia and P.E.I.

"Halifax has a fair bed bug issue and bed bugs are transferred by people carrying around things. So if you live in an apartment with bed bugs and you go on a bus ... it's very easy to transfer."

City spokeswoman Jennifer Stairs confirmed Halifax Transit was following up on a complaint of a bed bug on one of its buses. She said options could include fumigating the bus in question, adding that the vehicles are cleaned at the end of every day.

"The health and safety of our passengers and employees is always our utmost concern and priority," she said.

Public transit in other cities have also dealt with the creepy crawlers, including Toronto.

Danny Nicholson, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission, said it's been a number of years since they've received any complaints. When it has happened, he said the source "would almost certainly be items brought on board a vehicle by the public."

Bed bugs are tiny, oval-shaped pests between six and 10 millimetres long when they haven't eaten. Once they've fed on blood, either animal or human, they swell in size and turn a dark red hue. Though they don't spread diseases, people allergic to a bed bug bite may end up with red, itchy bumps on their skin. Many people don't even realize they've been a bed bug's snack.

Bringing a single, male bed bug into your home might not cause much trouble, said Zinck. But one pregnant female could lead to tens of thousands of bed bugs within six months.

He said that's enough to send shivers down anyone's spine.

"You curl up in your nice, warm bed and it's a safe spot to be," he said. "Whereas when you have bed bugs, when you curl up in your bed, you're thinking, 'Oh God, how many times am I going to be bitten tonight?"'

Johnson, who killed the bus bug with a piece of newspaper and took it home for proof, posted a photo of the bug on his Facebook profile. The Museum of Natural History in Halifax confirmed the insect in the photo was a bed bug, adding that it appeared to have recently eaten.

Johnson said he didn't take any chances after his encounter and either washed his clothes in very hot water or stuffed them in the freezer in hopes of killing any errant bugs.

He said he dealt with a bed bug infestation a number of years ago that took three months to clear up and involved buying two deep freezes, daily vacuuming and plenty of laundry.

"It was a three-month-long nightmare," said Johnson. "It affected me so traumatically that I don't want that to ever happen again."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trudeau government shelves part of anti-spam law that would allow private lawsuits

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is being accused of caving to big business lobbying after it decided to indefinitely freeze application of part of Canada's anti-spam law that would have allowed ordinary Canadians to sue for spam. Source
  • Foonie? As loonie turns 30, it's time to think of a name for a $5 coin: Don Pittis

    Canada News CBC News
    Foonie doesn't really work, so Canadians will have to put on their thinking caps to figure out a name for the $5 coin. As the loonie turns 30 this week, painful though it may be, we must inevitably begin to prepare ourselves to say goodbye to our blue Wilfrids. Source
  • Rare 'bright nights' mystery solved by Canadian scientists

    Canada News CBC News
    It's a phenomenon that's been noted throughout history: bright nights when you could read even though there was no illumination from the moon, candles or any other form of light. Now, Canadian scientists believe they've unravelled the mystery — and there's even a possibility we could see more such nights because of our changing climate. Source
  • Seeing the light: Mining companies look to solar power, wind for fresh revenue

    Canada News CBC News
    After a century of pulling lead and zinc from the Sullivan mine in southeast British Columbia, the energy company Teck recently shut down the operation and began years of restoration work. Some of the land outside the city of Kimberley became a meadow with grass and trees, but it remained tainted after decades of mining activity. Source
  • 'They were very persistent': CBC finds more cash-for-jobs immigration schemes

    Canada News CBC News
    After a CBC iTeam investigation revealed that a Saskatchewan business owner was offered cash in exchange for a job offer to a Chinese national, three other people have come forward to report similar experiences. Last week, CBC reported that Barb Reid, owner of a Fabricland in Prince Albert, had been approached by a representative of a Vancouver-based immigration consulting firm. Source
  • Trump's Supreme Court legacy might be closer than you think: Keith Boag

    World News CBC News
    Not that we needed it, but an avalanche of news from the U.S. Supreme Court has reminded us again that elections have consequences. The top court lifted most of the injunction against the Trump administration's controversial travel ban yesterday, while agreeing to hear arguments later this year about the lawfulness of that executive order. Source
  • Fire that threatened famous national park in Spain 'under control,' official says

    World News CTV News
    MADRID - Spain's interior minister says firefighters have brought under control a wildfire that threatened Donana National Park, a celebrated conservation wetland and home to the endangered Iberian lynx. In a note on his official Twitter account Tuesday, Juan Ignacio Zoido says that roads had been reopened in the area and some 250 soldiers deployed to combat the blaze were returning to base. Source
  • Utah wildfire grows as firefighters face hot, dry conditions

    World News CBC News
    The largest wildfire in the U.S. has forced more than 1,500 people from their homes and cabins in a southern Utah mountain area home to a ski town and popular fishing lake. Firefighters battled high winds as they fought a fire that has grown to 184 square kilometres and burned 13 homes — larger than any other fire in the country now, state emergency managers said. Source
  • Dutch sleuth looks to provide breakthrough in biggest U.S. art heist case

    World News CTV News
    THE HAGUE, Netherlands - A Dutch art sleuth whose search for purloined paintings and sculptures has led to Ukrainian militiamen and Nazi memorabilia collectors has joined the hunt for what he calls the "Holy Grail": A collection worth $500 million that represents the largest art heist in U.S. Source
  • Ruling in travel ban leads to more questions about lawsuits

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court's decision to partially reinstate U.S. President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban has left the effort to keep some foreigners out of the United States in a murky middle ground, with unanswered questions and possibly more litigation ahead. Source