Attorney checking into complaint of bed bugs at Cinemark 16

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The woman who believes bed bugs bit her at Cinemark 16 has engaged an attorney to investigate, while a spokesman for the movie theater says the company employs professional services monthly to keep pests away.

“Currently, we’re not aware of any issues with pests in our theater,” said James Meredith, who heads communications for Cinemark, headquartered near Dallas. “If we determine there is an issue, we are certainly going to rectify it.”

Kiln resident Miranda Rester, who penned a Facebook post about being bitten at Cinemark that went viral, has asked Gulfport attorney Aaron Hommell to look into her case.

Hommell said Rester has been to the doctor, who advised her to take two days off work because of her bites. Rester said on Facebook she believes she was bitten Thursday afternoon while attending the movie “Unforgettable” with a friend.

Rester said Cinemark management offered her free passes when she complained.

“I think she’s understandably upset that she got bitten by something,” Hommell said. “If someone gave me a free pass to go back to a place where I had allegedly been bitten by bed bugs, why would I go back?

“The other thing, too, is that the Cinemark people, when they gave her the passes, allegedly said she may have had an allergic reaction to their cleaning processes. Whether that is true or not, I don’t know. But we’re going to get to the bottom of it one way or another.”

Entomologist Tim Lockley said any number of insects, or even a fungus, could be responsible for red marks on the skin.

Bed bugs have nothing to do with cleanliness, he said. They can be found in four-star hotels.

Bed bugs don’t fly so they need to be close to their food — and they feed on blood.

“Theaters are one of the common habitats for bed bugs,” Lockley said. “That’s been going on quite a while. Anywhere where people gather, and people are sitting or moving, bed bugs are going to sense you. Bed bugs are active at night, and theaters are dark.

“Theaters are packed with people, especially if the movie is good.”

As parasites, Lockley said, bed bugs are specially equipped so you don’t even feel their bite. People react differently to the bites. Some may not even notice, and others will develop bite marks that itch. The bites can become infected, but bed bugs do not carry disease.

They’re also hitchhikers. They might climb onto a pants leg and take a ride to your house.

They are very hard to get rid of because they hide in cracks, whether behind the plate on an electrical outlet or in the folds of a mattress.

Lockley said professional exterminators are the best option for getting rid of bed bugs. They have become more common, he said, because roach spray is less frequently used these days. Instead, roaches are often killed with bait and bed bugs don’t eat bait.

If the infestation is thick enough, he said, it’s easy to tell whether bed bugs are around. They smell like the spice coriander.

Cinemark’s Meredith said guests are the theater chain’s top priority.