The pair — in the city to celebrate New Year's Eve and a 30th birthday — found bed bugs all over the mattress in their room at the Astor Hotel.
"It looked like black mud was jammed into the seam of the bed," Elgin Ozlen told the New York Daily News. "I lost it. They looked like they could hurt horses. It was a colony, a breeding ground."
His girlfriend was bitten dozens of times, ending up with 75 itchy bumps on her body.
The Long Beach, California, couple took video of the room crawling with bed bugs and eventually showed it to the hotel's general manager. "He was trembling, covering his mouth," said Ozlen. "He was disgusted. He started apologizing and offering us a different room. I told him, 'We're getting the hell out of this hotel!'"
Do bed bugs pose a health hazard?
It's nasty, no doubt, but luckily the pair is unlikely to suffer any long-term health complications because of the creepy crawlies. According to the Centers for Disease Control, bed bugs pose no medical hazard. There is the issue of itching skin, which can become infected if scratched enough, but that can be soothed with ointment. Some people might have an allergic reaction to the bites, too, so if that happens a doctor's visit is in order.
Bed bugs are a real problem at hotels, given that new people come in and out of the rooms each day. The University of Minnesota recommends bringing small flashlights with you to hotels so you can check in places bed bugs like to hide, like behind the headboard and room decorations. Also, check the mattress and underneath the sheets for the tell-tale signs of bed bugs, including black flecks (excrement) and rust-colored stains (blood from feeding).
How to prevent bringing bed bugs home with you
You should also bring a plastic bag to store your dirty clothes in because bed bugs are attracted to the chemical scent we leave behind. Vacuum your luggage when you return home and seal it in a large plastic bag to kill any hitchhikers.
As for Ozlen and his girlfriend? They high-tailed it out of the hotel.
"It was an unforgettable nightmare," Ozlen told the newspaper. "It didn’t even feel real. And the fact that it was New York and my birthday made it even worse."
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