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Bedbugs spread in New York City

Blood sucking critter spread to New York Empire State Building

Aug 22, 2010

Tourists flocking to the Empire State Building this weekend could find themselves encountering a whole other New York experience: bedbugs.

Staff at the iconic skyscraper discovered a minor infestation of the blood-sucking critters in the building's basement, according to The New York Daily News. Exterminators were promptly called on.

"That makes me think they're not cleaning when they should be," Phalyn Kazmaerczak, 23, of Buffalo, N.Y., told the Daily News. "You would think that for $20 a ticket, it should not be infested with bugs."

Bedbug infestations are a growing problem in New York City, with infestations rising fivefold in the 12 months to June, according to pest control company Assured Environments. Locations including a movie theater, a Victoria's Secret lingerie store and clothes retailer Abercrombie & Fitch all reporting infestations this year.

The creatures bite into human flesh with two hollow prongs and feed on blood. After the insect has had its fill and scurried off, the bite will start to itch painfully and swell up.

The insects can hide in walls, clothes and even computers and go a whole year without eating, making them extremely difficult to eradicate.

"Like so many other buildings in New York City, the Empire State Building had a small incident of bedbugs," the building said in a statement. "The occurrence was specific to a uniform storage area in the basement of the building. The area has been treated and fully cleared."

It isn't clear why bedbugs have become such a problem in New York, though it could be related to the large proportion of international travel through the city.

"They hitch rides in laptop bags, briefcases, suitcases," Barry Beck, chief operating officer of Assured Environments, told AOL News in June. "People start seeing them and freak out,"

The city government recently allocated $500,000 to help fight the bugs.

But not all the costs are financial. People say that the stigma attached to having an infestation is on the rise.

Victims say that colleagues, clients and even friends and families have grown reluctant to enter a home or even have physical contact with a person after an infestation.

"They don't want to hug you anymore; they don't want you coming over," Jeremy Sparig, of Brooklyn, told The New York Times. "You're like a leper."

Blood sucking critter spread to New York Empire State Building

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