Chanaa Gilliatt and her husband took their three teenagers to an Anderson, Illinois, theater on Friday evening to see Stephen King’s “It,” a terrifying movie about a clown that preys on children.

But as WXIN reports, Gilliatt explained the real terror for the family began once they got home:

“My son woke up to bugs crawling on him and biting him.”

The family believes they brought home bed bugs from the Mounds Mall of Anderson movie theater. As WXIN reports, the family started feeling the bites once they got home. They each discovered bugs and bites on their bodies.

Gilliatt revealed the extent of the infestation in their home:

“When you touch our bed right now bugs will just actually come out and it’s quite scary.”

According to the Travel Channel’s Travel Tips, movie theaters are a common location for the presence of bed bugs, along with public libraries, retail stores, and laundry facilities, to name a few. Movie theaters in particular are a cosy place for the bugs because of the number of people and the upholstered seats.

Bedbugsbites. blog writes that bed bugs mainly reside in the cracks and crevices of movie theater seats and can lay hundreds of eggs inside the seats. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide and body heat of humans, but because they release a mild anesthetic when they bite, humans cannot immediately feel they have been bitten. It is when the body releases an antihistamine to counteract the bug’s saliva that the itchy, red, and sometimes painful bumps are then noticed.

However, the general manager of the theater, Gene Foster, insists the bed bugs were not from his theater. Foster explained that every time his theater gets a complaint, an exterminator is called to perform an inspection throughout all 10 area theaters.

In the past four months, five inspections have been completed, with results indicating no presence of bed bugs. As Foster explained:

“It becomes frustrating and it’s becoming expensive but it’s just part of, I guess it’s something just part of doing business now. It’s a shame that it is but we do not ignore it and we take very seriously. I wouldn’t want to work in a theater with bed bugs, good grief.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bed bugs do not transmit or spread disease, but they are a problem because they cause property loss, expense, and inconvenience. The Environmental Protection Agency explains that the increase in bed bug infestations in the U.S. may be because of “a lack of knowledge about preventing infestations, increased resistance of bed bugs to pesticides, and ineffective pest control practices.”

Bedbugsbites recommends moviegoers check their seats for any signs of bed bug activity — stains, discarded exoskeletons, and an “obnoxious” smell of sweet almond. Using bug spray with DEET before entering the theater or covering the seat with a sheet are also options. Upon arriving home, inspect clothing and hair for any signs of bed bugs.

Although personally inconvenienced, Gilliatt is concerned with the well-being of other patrons, as she told WXIN:

“I just worry about other people’s health and their safety, that’s what I’m concerned about”

Following the family’s claims, the Mounds 10 theater called in an exterminator to check for bed bugs. The Herald Bulletin reports the theater was found not to have any.

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