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Bedbug Infestation Bites Into NYC Tourism

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on October 26, 2010 7:03 AM

News about bedbugs continues to crawl forth from the Big Apple. New York is just one of the major cities in the United States to be hit with an epidemic of the pests, but in NYC, they do everything bigger and better. Now, there are news reports that the bedbugs may even be affecting tourism.

Bedbug infestations have expanded from the city's apartment buildings and hotels to major landmarks and tourist destinations such as the Empire State Building, Bloomingdale's and Lincoln Center, the Associated Press reports. However, the news service also reports that the sightings were limited: Bloomingdale's found exactly one bug, the pests were relegated to the basement of the Empire State and a dressing room at Lincoln Center. Still, such reports are enough to make some visitors think twice about visiting New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has voiced concern about the effect of the bedbug infestation hysteria on the city's reputation, the AP reports. "You don't want anything that would dissuade people from coming here," he told reporters. "Hopefully these things come and go, and this will go quickly."

Worries about the bugs are increasing for out-of-towners who read online reviews of hotels and find claims by other guests that they were bitten while staying at that establishment. Lawsuits have already been filed against landlords and hotels for damages and emotional distress caused by the bugs. One whiplash effect might be suits by the hotels back against guests who spread claims they were bitten, but who did not actually contract the pests at that hotel. The economic damage to a business's reputation would not be hard to prove and if a statement was made falsely, a claim for defamation could reasonably be made.

The bedbug infestation hysteria may be getting just a bit out of hand. A company called Apps Genius has released a bedbug app for the iPhone, according to CBS News. No, it won't scan a hotel room for bugs, but it will allow users to map out reports of the latest bug infestations in 10 major cities across the country. The app will also allow users to submit their own sightings. The Bed Bug Alert can be purchased for a grand total of $1.99 at an Apple store.

The recent resurgence of bedbugs has been blamed mostly two factors. Eexperts say the combination of increased global travel with a ban on certain pesticides has allowed the bugs to flourish in a way that was rare decades ago, according to the AP. When staying in hotels, some bug experts recommend keeping your clothes off the floor and away from the bed and keeping your suitcase on a luggage rack.

Sleep tight.

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