Traveler Blake Gram ventured to Steubenville, Ohio on a trip for his business, but left the hotel the following morning with unintentional guests—bedbugs. After spending the night at a Best Western Plus, Gram awoke to find that he had developed itchy sores across his entire body, made up of numerous bites from bedbugs that were later found to be present in his hotel room. After visiting the emergency room in the hospital, he was able to get treatment for the bites but was left with a very negative impression from his stay at the hotel itself.

Bedbugs can often cause a number of painful bites as they seek out a diet of blood from human hosts. Once they infiltrate an area, especially one with high traffic like a hotel, they can quickly reproduce, making it hard to get rid of them effectively. Once an infestation of bedbugs is in place, the damage that they can cause can be severe and long-lasting. Gram documented his encounter with the bedbugs by taking multiple pictures of the areas of his body that had been affected by bedbug bites. The pictures were later sent into a news station.

Soon after the incident, a complaint was issued to the Health Department, which is responsible for the oversight of the management of bedbug infestations in public places. Officials from the department followed up on the initial complaint by speaking to the owner of the hotel.  Upon questioning, the owner admitted that at least one room in the hotel was known to have had an issue with bedbugs.

The Best Western in question did have a policy on the appropriate ways to address an infestation of bedbugs, had hired a pest control expert for immediate treatment, and established a regular service that includes a routine inspection with a dog trained to smell bedbugs through the pest control company, in the hopes that management would be able to identify areas that might be home to bedbugs and deter future infestations.

While Gram noted that the Best Western management was quick to respond to his complaint, he was still highly affected by his stay in the hotel. The hotel management was able to pay for all of the basic cleaning fees for the affected clothing items brought into the room by Gram and also paid to replace his suitcase and footwear.

While these were initial steps to resolving the problems brought on by the bedbugs, Gram has taken on an attorney to make sure that all of the fees from his encounter with the bedbugs are addressed in full by the hotel management, including the fees from his emergency room visit and subsequent medical treatment costs.

The Steubenville Best Western is currently still in the process of working with Health Department officials to ensure that all of the necessary treatment steps are undertaken and that precautions to avoid future infestations are put into place.


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