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

  • Sentencing hearing for mom who 'gambled away' son's life with holistic medicine

    Canada News CTV News
    CALGARY - Sentencing arguments are to be heard today for a woman who treated her son with holistic remedies before he died of a strep infection. Tamara Lovett was found guilty in January of criminal negligence causing death. Source
  • Trapped girl a symbol for Mexico's earthquake rescue efforts

    World News CBC News
    A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the rubble of her school stretched into a daylong vigil for Mexico, much of it broadcast across the nation as rescue workers still struggled in rain and darkness early Thursday trying to pick away unstable debris and reach her. Source
  • Trapped girl a symbol of Mexico's quake rescue efforts

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- A delicate effort to reach a young girl buried in the rubble of her school stretched into a daylong vigil for Mexico, much of it broadcast across the nation as rescue workers still struggled in rain and darkness early Thursday trying to pick away unstable debris and reach her. Source
  • UN mission in Congo faces reckoning over sex abuse scandal

    World News CTV News
    BUNIA, Congo - The Congolese orphan girl haunts the UN's top human rights official, even though more than a decade has passed since he heard her story. It was a big day in this town in northeastern Congo: A top UN delegation was paying a high-profile visit. Source
  • Germany jails Syrian refugee over UN observer's abduction

    World News CBC News
    A German court has convicted a Syrian refugee of being an accessory to a war crime against humanitarian operations over his participation in the 2013 kidnapping of a United Nations observer. The Stuttgart state court Wednesday sentenced the defendant, who has been identified only as Suliman Al-S. Source
  • South Korea to resume aid to North Korea, but doesn't set timeline

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - South Korea on Thursday decided to resume humanitarian aid to North Korea to help children and pregnant women, but didn't determine when to provide the $8 million worth of assistance amid tensions created by Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests. Source
  • More charges, new defendant in Texas human smuggling case

    World News CTV News
    SAN ANTONIO - The driver of a semitrailer found outside a San Antonio Walmart in July packed with immigrants, including 10 who died, faces additional charges in the smuggling case and another defendant has now been charged, federal officials said Wednesday. Source
  • Hurricane Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico

    World News CBC News
    The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. Source
  • A stunned Puerto Rico seeks to rebuild after Hurricane Maria

    World News CBC News
    The strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in more than 80 years destroyed hundreds of homes, knocked out power across the entire island and turned some streets into raging rivers Wednesday in an onslaught that could plunge the U.S. Source
  • At UN, Myanmar tries to reassure the world over Rohingya crisis

    World News CTV News
    Myanmar tried to reassure the world Wednesday about its handling of the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims to Bangladesh and said it is committed to resolving sectarian tensions in the strife-hit region. The Southeast Asian nation is facing accusations of ethnic cleansing and "savagery" by its security forces. Source