FOX19 Investigates: Secret bed bug dangers

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Those blood-sucking insects that love to feast on you and your family when you're asleep are showing-up in unexpected places, a FOX19 investigation shows.

For the past month, we've been talking with bed bug experts and "prey" alike.

John Montgomery fits both categories.

He had hip replacement surgery and rented a medical device. It was a fabric-covered chair that lifted him up on its own.

Montgomery wondered why his leg and ankle were covered with a trail of red bumps.

An allergic reaction to a painkiller? He wondered.

Nope, a nurse told him, bed bugs.

The chair had been in his home for 11 days.

"We were like so many other people," Montgomery said. "We didn't know what bed bugs looked like. We didn't know any of their habits. We were under the mistaken notion that, 'Gee, people like us never get bed bugs.'"

They do --- and he did.

Around the same time, a light bulb went off in Montgomery's mind: This could be a business opportunity. He'd heard of bed bug-sniffing dogs. And he decided to go down to Florida to adopt one that had been professionally trained. The process involved Montgomery and the dog training together, too.

A business partnership with Hershey the chocolate lab was born.

Now stories of the surprising places Montgomery and Hershey have found bed bugs would silence any dinner party:

•  In a diaper bag a hospital had given a new mom

•  At a nursing home, in the boot of an exercise device

•  Call centers, where many employees were close together

LeAnne Montgomery knows of three women who even got bed bugs from the loveseat at a funeral home.

Getting rid of bed bugs can be expensive.

Kurt Scherzinger, the assistant general manager at Scherzinger Pest Control, says the most convenient way for homeowners – and the most effective way of killing bed bugs – is through a method that heats-up a house to more than 120-degrees.

"Studies have shown if you can achieve temperatures of 122-plus degrees, you can actually kill the egg to adult within seconds," said Scherzinger.

But the price for the service starts at $1300. And Scherzinger says homeowners' insurance doesn't pay for it. So people are out of all that money.

FOX19 News has also heard from a viewer named Kevin who told us on Facebook that he got bed bugs during a do-it-yourself move when he used a rental truck.

"It's the only place that it could have been," he said, "as the place I moved from did not have them and my new home did not have them to start."

He believes the rental truck company did not properly clean the vehicle between uses.

We went to Planes Moving & Storage in West Chester to see how the professionals deal with bed bugs.

Stephen Sabatalo, the senior vice-president of operations, says it all begins with the first in-person interaction with the customer. Representatives of the company look for bug infestations as they walk through the customer's home. It's done again when the company's employees arrive to begin boxing-up all the belongings.

"We've had some situations where there may be some infestations," Sabatalo said. "To quote whether they were bed bugs or not, we don't know."

Planes won't move a customer until the bugs are taken care of --- whatever they are.

So how do you spot them on your own?

Montgomery says bed bugs will often leave a trail of blood on your furniture, along with "black dots that are fecal matter," and possibly even their shell as they molt.

He recommends putting your luggage in the bathtub as soon as you get to your room in a hotel.

That way, you can search for signs of bed bugs before you take out your clothes and end-up taking home a blood-thirsty pest.