PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- A video showing a bed bug infestation on a Philadelphia city bus is going viral, and now, the SEPTA transit agency says it is addressing the problem.
Crystal Lopez shot the video, showing the bugs scampering along the upholstered seatback. Minutes before, she said she had stretched her arm over that seat and was shocked at what happened next.
"Right before I was to pull the cord, I feel like this itching, burning feeling on my arm," she said. "It was in its entirety from my wrist to my armpit."
She said 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," she said. "Like my whole arm was on fire and itching all at once."
Bed bugs can be thought of as tiny hitchhiking vampires, and someone from an infected home can walk them into a public space where they can survive so long as they have a nearby crevice in which to hide.
They have turned up on buses in other cities, as well as taxi cabs, airliners and trains. They have also been found in movie theaters.
"We have special treatments once a quarter where we apply, or a contractor applies, a material specifically designed to treat bed bugs," SEPTA Assistant General Manager Ron Hopkins said.
SEPTA pulled the bus Lopez was riding out of service after she sounded the alarm. Officials said they are also in the process replacing upholstered seats with plastic.
One way bed bugs can spread in public spaces is through personal belongings. Experts say a book bag or handbag placed near an infestation could allow them to climb aboard, and you can then take them home.
Some experts advise public transit riders to hold belongings on a lap, away from the upholstery and any possible infestation.
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Woman records video of bed bug infestation on Philadelphia bus seat