By John Rawlins
Saturday, September 08, 2018 07:42PM
PHILADELPHIA — A video showing a bed bug infestation on a SEPTA bus is going viral, and now the transit agency is addressing the problem.
Crystal Lopez was the person who shot the video, showing the bugs scampering along the upholstered seatback. Minutes before she had stretched her arm over that seat.
“Right before I was to pull the cord, I feel like this itching, burning feeling on my arm. It was in its entirety from my wrist to my armpit,” Lopez said.
She says the bug bites triggered an allergic skin reaction, which started as raised welts then became a red rash.
“I felt like my arm was on fire, like my whole arm was on fire and itching all at once,” she said.
Bed bugs can be thought of as tiny hitchhiking vampires. Someone from an infected home can walk them into a public space where they can survive, so long as they have a nearby crevice to hide in.
They have turned up on buses in other cities, as well as taxi cabs, airliners and trains.
Septa has 1,400 buses, and a program targeting bedbugs.
“We have special treatments once a quarter where we apply, or a contractor applies, a material specifically designed to treat bed bugs,” said Asst. General Manager Ron Hopkins.
SEPTA pulled the bus Lopez was riding out of service after she sounded the alarm.
SEPTA is also in the process replacing upholstered seats with plastic.
One way bed bugs can spread in public spaces is through personal belongings. You put down your book bag or handbag near an infestation and they climb aboard and you take them home.
Some experts advise if you are on public transit to hold your belongings on your lap, away from the upholstery, and any possible infestation.