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AMC Empire Theater Latest To Tackle Bed Bug Menace

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880/CBS 2) – Bed bugs are taking over Manhattan, and the invasion is getting worse as the creepy crawlers turn up in even more locations.

Bed bugs have turned up at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the main library in Manhattan, and the Time Warner Building. The bugs have also been spotted in a SoHo “Hollister” store, an “Abercrombie & Fitch” store at South Street Seaport, and an East Side “Victoria’s Secret” retailer.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports

The latest location to report bed bugs is the AMC Empire Movie Theater in Times Square.

AMC Empire 25 had their latest bed bug treatment Tuesday night after a specialist detected bugs in the theater weeks ago.

“We have taken aggressive and proactive steps to help ensure our theaters remain free of bed bugs,” an AMC spokesperson said.

Brittany Clem went through the bed bug nightmare a year ago, when they infested her apartment.

“They’re just huge bites all over your body, and they’re unbearably itchy,” Clem said.

Sarah Jack told CBS 2’s Dave Carlin that she’s ready to go into the AMC Empire after its latest round of bed bug treatments.

“I’ll try to find a few plastic bags and sit on them to be extra cautious,” Jack said.

City Council Member Gail Brewer said coming clean about the problem is a crucial first step.

“People are feeling less stigmatized and saying ‘I have bed bugs,'” Brewer said.

Richard Cooper is an entomologist who wrote the book on bed bugs – literally – as author of “Bed Bugs 101.”. He says they’ve been infesting homes for years, and that’s how they’re spreading to so many businesses and public places.

“It didn’t start in the business – it’s not a reflection on sanitation, it’s not a reflection on their cleaning or the quality of the establishment,” Cooper, also the vice president of BedBug Central, said. “It’s just the fact that there are so many people who have infestations at home that they are introducing them into these establishments.”

Cooper says the key to stopping bed bugs from popping up at public establishments is to be proactive and stop the infestations at home. He says using so-called “climb-up inceptors” on the legs of your bed can help detect and trap the bugs.

“The climb-up device will intercept the insects as they’re coming to the bed and trapping them in the well,” Cooper said. “We [also] want to eliminate contact services, like dust ruffles, so that there are not alternative ways onto the bed.”

Cooper also says a mattress encasement that zips up around your mattress and box spring will help keep the bugs out. Bed bugs also often hitch a ride on your clothes and bags, so less is more when you’re heading out.

“Don’t bring a whole bunch of stuff with you – don’t necessarily bring a big backpack, or a bag that’s filled,” Cooper said. “You could minimize – just bring a small bag that you could easily throw in a washer or a dryer, because heat will destroy the bugs and the eggs.”

Cooper says there’s no reason to panic over bed bugs, but it’s vital to be proactive and learn how to detect them as soon as possible.

Experts say if you can detect bed bugs within a few weeks, you can get rid of them pretty quickly and inexpensively.

The problem is, many people don’t know their home has been infested for months, and that’s when the problem becomes a nightmare.

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