Bedbug infestation at Hawaiian airport has experts warning travelers what to look for

Weeks after an infestation was discovered, a Hawaii airport is continuing to monitor for bed bugs as experts warn travelers what to be on the lookout for.

Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii averages 73,000 passengers per day and over the busy Memorial Day weekend, many of them were possibly exposed. On May 29, the Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT) was alerted that unidentified bugs had been spotted in Terminal 2.

An HDOT spokesperson informed SFGATE that staff had been dispatched to clean and “remove items they thought had attracted the bugs,” but the following day a Southwest Airlines manager spotted more of the pests. A sample was collected and provided to HDOT positively identifying bed bugs.

As a result, gates E5, E6 and E7 were temporarily closed for a deep-cleaning that included high temperatures and nontoxic sprays, and a statement from HDOT said, “Following best practices, we are closing the three affected gates tonight and a pest control company will apply preventative control measures.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “Experts believe the recent increase in bed bugs in the United States may be due to more travel, lack of knowledge about preventing infestations, increased resistance of bed bugs to pesticides, and ineffective pest control practices.”

The agency’s website detailed some of the signs to identify when bed bugs may be present, including a “‘musty-sweetish’ odor produced through glands on the lower side of the body.”

(Image: EPA)

Speaking with Fox News Digital, dermatologist Alison Ehrlich made note that “Bedbugs are photophobic and thus would not be seen moving around during the day.”

She also made note of some of the characteristic differences between bed bug bites and those of other common pests as she detailed, “Bedbug bites generally occur while people are sleeping,” and, “are more likely to occur on the upper body, [while] flea or mosquito bites occur on the lower body.”

Furthermore, she explained to the outlet that bed bugs typically leave bites in groups of three that create a zigzag pattern referred to as “breakfast, lunch, dinner.”

The bites themselves were said to go away within a week or two, though an emphasis on cleaning them was made in order to prevent infection.

Advice to avoid getting bit in the first place included checking the folds and seams of mattresses and sheets before climbing into bed at a hotel along with any other fabric surfaces. To that end, it was recommended that luggage be kept off the floor when traveling and, upon returning home, clothes could be placed in a dryer at a high temperature to sanitize them.

As for the situation at DIK airport, HDOT Director Ed Sniffen said in a statement, “Additional deep cleaning will take place per recommendations over the next three weeks to prevent recurrence.”


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