Bed Bug Invasion

September 2, 2010 Updated Sep 2, 2010 at 6:46 PM EDT

By John Borsa

September 2, 2010 Updated Sep 2, 2010 at 6:46 PM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- Just looking at them makes your skin crawl.

Bed bugs. They're giving people all over the country that creepy feeling -- infesting mattresses and bed sheets and forcing businesses to drastically change they way they operate.

At Grace House in Buffalo, a transitional facility for convicted felons, bed bugs have moved in.

"It's a big problem nationally," said Rev. Terry King, executive director of Saving Grace Ministries. "I think that this may be the start of something."

Bed bugs are everywhere. A newly released top 15 most infected cities list shows they have invaded homes coast to coast.

They are notoriously difficult to get rid of, sometimes requiring several costly visits from an exterminator.

"You're talking about multiple treatments and steaming and cleaning -- because it's not just the beds -- it's the carpets, floor, wall coverings, corner boards, closet space, everything," King said.

And once the critters are gone, keeping them out of a facility where several dozen or hundreds of people come and go all day long, like a hotel or movie theater, becomes problematic.

Erie County health officials report finding bed bugs in one room at a local hotel, but the problem with quickly addressed and the infestation was eradicated.

Home furniture stores are finding that they have to change the way they operate to protect customers.

City Mattress is one company that removes old mattresses when it delivers new ones. But the Bed Bug invasion means those old mattresses now have to be handled with special care.

"For some time we have always had our policy to be that we would wrap the old mattress in the plastic that the new ones come in," said store spokesman Eric Anderson.

"Now we're making sure, doubly sure, that the bags are closed up and taped sealed," he added.

Delivery trucks are fumigated daily to make sure any critters are wiped out, said Anderson.