MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Just the sound of the name can make your skin crawl: bed bugs. One couple says they encountered the unwelcome guests at a local motel.
"I noticed bug bites and when I got up and flipped the pillow, they were everywhere," Shane Kelly described the moment bed bugs woke him up in the middle of the night.
Kelly and his wife claim the extra, unwanted guest was in their motel room, crawling out of the mattress, while they slept at the Seven Brothers Motel on Ocean Blvd.
"They were all over. We pulled up the mattress, they were under there," he added.
The couple still has red marks from the bites on their bodies. What they don't have: a place to sleep tonight.
"It was our last $175 so we could get started down here," he explained, saying on a fixed income every paycheck counts.
He claims the motel wouldn't give them a refund but offered to move them to another room.
WMBF News spoke to the motel manager and was brought into the room to inspect the mattresses. He showed plastic lining on most of the beds and pulled off the sheets to expose the mattress to check the cracks and crevices where bed bugs typically sleep tight.
Many of the people staying at the motel said their rooms are clean and pest-free. The motel manager admitted this is the second bed bug incident in the last six months. However, pest control experts explain the discovery isn't that uncommon.
"[Bed bugs] are associated with unsanitary conditions, but that's not the case. They can be found in a high end home – all the way down to public housing," said Lennie Johnson, the Assistant General Manager with Lane's Professional Pest Elimination, Inc.
The Seven Brothers Motel maintains that they take these incidents very seriously and closed down the room immediately after the couple complained. The manager said they cleaned and inspected it, showing receipts of items bought to take care of the issue. In addition, the motel has a pest control expert spray the property once a month.
While bed bugs are not uncommon, neither is regulation. In fact, DHEC doesn't get involved because bed bugs are not considered a public health risk. Since they don't carry diseases, they are seen just as a nuisance.
It's a frustration for many people traveling because there is no easy way to check the status of a hotel room when booking it, and many cases go completely undocumented.
As Spring Break kicks off and thousands of tourists travel to the Grand Strand, pest control experts urge you to check your bed after checking in.
"Look at the mattress, not just the sheet. And take that tuft around the edge and check the crack and crevice because they hide themselves," suggested Johnson.
Instead of putting your luggage on the bed,throw it in the tub until you can inspect the room.
"We suggest the tub because it typically white. If you take a shirt out and shake it out and something falls off,you can see it quickly in the bathtub," explained Johnson.
Experts nickname bed bugs 'hitchhikers' because they will hop on you and travel wherever you go. Lennie Johnson warned it is easy to pick up the pests in everyday places such as taxi cabs, movie theater, chairs, and couches at the mall.