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Walmart spokesperson invalidates bedbugs rumor

WORTHINGTON -- A Walmart media relations official said Monday rumors about a bedbug infestation at Worthington's supercenter store are untrue.

"We've had no reports from customers," said Dianna Gee, media relations senior manager for Walmart. "All of our stores are inspected monthly, and there has been no infestation ever at that store."

All Walmart stores are inspected by the company's contracted sanitation service, Ecolab.

"There are no validations to these rumors," she added.

In addition to the routine inspections by Ecolab, Gee continued the company scheduled another inspection as soon as the corporate company was aware of the infestation rumor.

"We take matters like this very seriously," she said.

Jason Kloss, manager at Southwest Health and Human Services, said while he has heard rumors of infestation of the store, he has yet to receive a complaint.

Kloss, the Nobles-Rock Public Health Sanitarian before the dual county agency split last year, explained infestation of bedbugs at stores such as Walmart is uncommon.

"I don't really know how it can happen," Kloss said, adding infestation at public places like movie theaters of libraries are more prevalent. "I suppose the changing rooms could be a vehicle of transmission because a person carries it on their bags or on their clothes. The bedbugs could fall off."

He stressed bedbugs are nocturnal creatures that typically search for meal sources at night.

"I'd like to clarify that bedbugs don't attack just one socio-economic group," Kloss said. "Whether you're rich or poor, you're at risk for bedbugs. Having bedbugs doesn't make a person the black sheep."

Currently, Nobles County does not have a sanitarian employed. The county's public health supervisor, Janet Howard, explained Kloss had continued to perform nuisance-related work for Nobles County until the end of last year.

As of now, the county is working with Community Health Services in Jackson County to develop a temporary contract for 120 days that will last until the end of June.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony can be reached at 376-7321.