Houston, we have a problem, and experts say it's only getting worse. Those nasty, biting, pesky parasites known as bed bugs are causing trouble again across our area. The problem is often related to people traveling.
"The more they travel, the more they put their suitcase down on the ground; bed bugs just crawl right on in," says pest expert Calvin Thigpen, from the Texas Bugs R Us pest control company.
Thigpen's been in the business for 12 years. He said he's already doubled his revenue in bed bug calls for 2014 compared to all of last year. According to the experts, bed bugs multiply rapidly and leave tell-tale signs.
"First thing you look for is blood smears on your sheets -- fecal stains," said Thigpen. "They're little black stains, little black smears."
The insects aren't just affecting homes but businesses as well.
A woman, who didn't want to be identified for fear of losing her job, is one of several hundred employees at APAC Customer Services in Humble, a call center for several national companies. The worker said the call center has been infested since May, and she said she has the bite marks to prove it. But she claims supervisors only responded to worker complaints last month.
"You go to work, you sit down, and you're constantly moving because you're getting bit," she said. "You're constantly trying to scratch and take calls at the same time."
In a statement from the company a spokesperson told Local 2, "The issue has been isolated, and we are working with public health and a recognized pest control company to address and resolve the matter as quickly as possible."
The spokesperson said the company also contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the issue.
Thigpen said the Houston area's bed bug problem is not at pandemic levels right now but that it could reach epidemic levels in the near future. In that case, he said, we could see people picking up the insects in places like movie theaters and other public establishments.