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

  • Oil prices at highest levels in 4 years

    World News CBC News
    Oil prices were at their highest levels since 2014 in trading Monday, after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided not to raise output. In a meeting Sunday in Algiers, OPEC rejected U.S. President Donald Trump's call to open the taps, with both Saudi Arabia and Russia saying they won't produce significantly more oil. Source
  • Michael Kors reportedly ready to buy Versace for $2B

    World News CBC News
    U.S. fashion group Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. has agreed to take control of Italy's Versace in a deal that could value the company at $2 billion US, sources familiar with the matter said on Monday. The deal comes as budding luxury conglomerates, including Michael Kors' U.S. Source
  • Ford plans to form special committee to probe province's fiscal situation

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO - Premier Doug Ford says his government plans to strike a special committee to further investigate Ontario's fiscal situation in light of a newly reviewed multibillion-dollar deficit. Ford says the select committee will have the power to call witnesses, compel documents and gather evidence. Source
  • Mounties hunt on-the-run assault suspect who escaped custody

    Canada News CTV News
    The RCMP in Saskatchewan is looking for a man who escaped from custody following his arrest in an assault case. Police at Kamsack took the 26-year-old accused into custody Saturday afternoon on Cote First Nation. Source
  • AP source says U.S. Deputy AG expecting to be fired

    World News CTV News
    In this July 13, 2018, file photo, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein speaks during a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File) Source
  • Sex assault charge stayed against one British sailor, trial proceeding for other

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX - The Crown has stayed a sexual assault charge against a British sailor in Halifax but the trial of his co-accused is set to continue today. Simon Radford and Darren Smalley were charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and participating in a group sexual assault in barracks at 12 Wing Shearwater on April 10, 2015. Source
  • Federal public servants advised to stay home amid Ottawa tornado cleanup

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA – Federal government workers in the Ottawa area have been asked to stay home on Monday as cleanup across the Ottawa area continues following Friday’s tornadoes. Public servants in the National Capital Region received the notice not to come in, or work from home if possible, on Sunday night. Source
  • Wettlaufer inquiry to hear testimony from families of nursing home victims

    Canada News CBC News
    Emotions will be running high as relatives and friends of nursing home residents killed by disgraced nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer testify today at Ontario's public inquiry into long-term care when it resumes in St. Thomas. Closing submissions will be heard this week, capping off the four-month public portion of the inquiry into the safety and security of residents in long-term care. Source
  • Will Bill Cosby, 81, go to prison? A judge is set to decide

    World News CBC News
    Bill Cosby arrived at a suburban Philadelphia courthouse Monday for the start of a sentencing hearing that will determine how the 81-year-old comedian will be punished for drugging and sexually assaulting a Canadian woman more than 14 years ago. Source
  • South Carolina county braced for 'record event' when Hurricane Florence waters crest

    World News CBC News
    Hurricane Florence is by no means done with the Carolinas, where some rivers are still rising and thousands of people were told to plan to leave their homes on Monday before rivers reach their crest. About 6,000 to 8,000 people in Georgetown County, S.C. Source