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‘It’s a nightmare:’ Florida family says son bitten by bedbugs in Bozeman hotel

Posted at 7:25 PM, Jul 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-03 21:31:48-04

For those who travel and use hotels a lot, bedbugs are definitely something you don’t want to worry about.

A family from Florida tells MTN they ran into exactly that here in Bozeman.

Lesli Rubin claims that she, her husband, and her seven-year-old son were in the middle of a trip across the country, enjoying the summer, when they stopped for the night at a Quality Inn and Suites in Bozeman on June 25.

The next morning she claims red spots popped up across her son’s skin.

That’s when she says the trouble started.

“It’s a nightmare,” Rubin says. “I’m telling you, this is a nightmare.”

Tired from the road, Florida nurse Lesli and her husband, David, a surgeon, stopped at the Quality Inn with their son in tow.

“We were driving through,” Lesli says. “We didn’t have a hotel so we pulled into the Quality Inn. They gave us a room. We checked in. My son went to bed. He woke up the next morning, covered with all of these bites.”

Lesli took photos, with bites visible nearly everywhere on her son’s body.

“It’s his chest and his back,” she says. “They were in the classic pattern of threes. They call it breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

She took her son to a dermatologist, who she says confirmed the bites were the work of bedbugs.

“I called the hotel immediately,” Lesli says. “They transferred me to their main headquarters which is Choice Hotels and I didn’t get anywhere. I kept emailing and emailing and calling. They offered me $80 and said sorry it happened and still nobody from the hotel has called me.”

Lesli also showed MTN a series of email correspondence between herself and the guest relations department of Choice Hotels.

So, we tried to follow the same phone trail.

First, we tried called the hotel manager.

He eventually got back to us, saying no comment.

But he told me to try their corporate headquarters in Maryland, Choice Hotels.

We left a message.

“I have still got nothing resolved,” Lesli says. “I called the hotel yesterday morning again, asking to speak with the manager and no call.”

Our next stop, the Gallatin City-County Health Department.

It was there where we got some answers.

“We get and have had calls in the past related to questions that hotel operators have regarding bedbug infestations,” says Lori Christenson, environmental health director at GCCHD. “We would recommend that they call a pest control operator.”

Christenson says this time of year, they get more calls regarding bedbugs and for a reason.

“There’s more people traveling and bedbugs are really hard to treat with just common pesticides and also a lot of bedbugs are becoming resilient,” Christenson says. “It’s not unusual that there are phone calls and concerns related to bedbugs.”

And there is some good news.

“Right now, there is no evidence that bedbugs carry any type of disease,” Christenson says. “They really are a pest.”

Christenson adds that there are sanitarians in the field that routinely check into infestations, getting to the bottom of situations like the Rubins’.

But for now, Lesli is still waiting for answers. 

“Thankfully, they’re not painful,” she says. “They are just really itchy and uncomfortable and he’s a really good sport. We don’t want this to happen to anybody else.”

MTN has not heard back from the corporate office.