Bedbugs check in to some popular Las Vegas hotels. Guests may leave with new travel companions

Las Vegas, NV - April 20: A sign advertising the fight between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia glows high above the Las Vegas Strip in the days before the sold out match pitting two boxers with very large numbers of social media followers. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
At least four guests staying in hotels on the Las Vegas Strip have reportedly encountered bedbugs in their rooms between September and January. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

What happens in Las Vegas doesn't always stay in Las Vegas. That applies to bedbugs that may hitch a ride with you back to your home.

At least four guests staying in popular hotels on the Las Vegas Strip encountered the pests in their rooms between September and January, according to Las Vegas-based KLAS-TV, which cited reports from the local health department.

Health inspectors from the Southern Nevada Health District confirmed bedbug sightings at the Encore, Venetian, Excalibur Hotel & Casino and Mirage. A bedbug-sniffing dog deployed by the Encore found a live bedbug on Dec. 5 after a guest complained, according to the news station. The hotel closed that room for service.

The Southern Nevada Health District said it provided inspection reports to the station in response to a public records request over "bed complaints for public accommodations" over a six-month period .

"We understand that people find the topic of interest, and bed bugs are a nuisance; however, we are not conducting any ongoing investigations," communications officer Jennifer Sizemore of the Southern Nevada Health District wrote in an email.

The Nevada Resort Assn., a gaming and resort advocacy group, said the health and safety of guests is the highest priority for the resort industry.

"With approximately 155,000 hotel rooms and 41 million annual visitors, four rooms impacted over a nearly five-month period that generated millions of room nights shows these are extremely rare and isolated occurrences," the association said. "The minute number of incidents reflects the comprehensive and proactive health and safety measures and pest-control procedures Las Vegas resorts have in place to prevent and address issues."

The association added that when hotels encounter bedbugs, guests are relocated and exterminators are called, in accordance with health and safety guidelines. But the association cautions that bedbugs can be transported just about anywhere in luggage or on clothing.

While bedbugs themselves don't experience wanderlust, world travelers who flock to major tourist destinations — such as Las Vegas — may find themselves with bedbugs as their new travel companions.

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The report of a handful of bedbugs over a five-month period comes shortly after Las Vegas played host to roughly 450,000 visitors for Super Bowl LVIII earlier this month. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, a government agency tasked with marketing Sin City to the world, estimates that nearly half a million visitors walked the Vegas Strip during Super Bowl weekend. Steve Hill, president and chief executive of the visitors authority, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that there were 300 events leading up to the game across Las Vegas. It's unknown how many of those visitors actually stayed in the city.

Attorney Brian Virag, who specializes in suing hotels and short-term rental companies on behalf of clients who have been bitten by bedbugs, said that the few reported incidents in Las Vegas is most likely a conservative and underreported figure.

"When someone's exposed to bedbugs, they will deal directly with the hotel management," Virag said. "In only a handful of situations do people exposed to bedbugs actually reach out to the health department."

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That means that many bedbug encounters go unreported to a government agency, he suggested.

Virag advises guests to always check their hotel rooms before they retire for the night. That includes checking the mattress, baseboards, behind the headboard, nightstands and curtains. The advice applies to the most budget-friendly hostels and the most lavish resort suites around the world.

"Bedbugs don't discriminate," Virag said. "They don't check TripAdvisor before they infest a particular property."

While not poisonous, bedbugs are persistent in overstaying their welcome. They can live for a year without eating and will emerge when a new food source arrives, such as a human or animal, according to the pest control company Orkin. Female bedbugs can deposit one to five eggs a day and may lay up to 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime.

“While bedbugs are visible to the naked eye, they are excellent at hiding. Involving a trained professional at the sight of a bedbug introduction is recommended," Orkin entomologist Ben Hottel said in a statement accompanying a recent report that ranks some of the worst bedbug offenders across the country.

Chicago topped the list, while Los Angeles ranked fifth and Las Vegas entered the list for the first time at No. 35.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.