Woman counted 102 bedbug bites after trip on Duquesne Incline
The nonprofit that runs the Duquesne Incline will start regularly spraying for bedbugs and other insects after an infestation was found in one of the cars.
Mark McNally, executive director of the Society for the Preservation of the Duquesne Heights Incline, said the bedbug infestation in one of the cars was confirmed this week after a passenger was bit over the weekend.
The society, which operates the 142-year-old funicular, called in an exterminator after the report. McNally said the pest professionals didn’t think it was bedbugs initially because there’s no upholstery on the incline’s car or anywhere else for the bugs to hide.
“It’s just a fluke,” McNally said. “We jumped on it as soon as we heard about it.”
When the incline closed for the night at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, McNally was there with an exterminator, and both cars were sprayed and cleaned out.
“He did his magic on both cars,” McNally said. “We had bedbugs, but they’re gone and will be gone forever.”
The society will start regularly spraying the cars to prevent their return, he said.
The incline is owned by the Port Authority of Allegheny County but operated by the society.
The Monongahela Incline was also inspected for bedbugs and none were found, Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said.
Army Capt. Lauren Warrender, 26, of Fort Carson, Colo., was home on leave and was with her mother showing off the city to a friend when she was bit more than 100 times on the incline.
Warrender grew up in Buffalo Township — she was Lauren Screen before she married — and attended Freeport Area High School.
They took the incline up Mt. Washington. About halfway into the ride, she felt “super-itchy,” she said.
When they got to the top, Warrender noticed she had hives and welts on her backside. Her mother worried it was an allergic reaction, but Warrender thought it was a bug bite.
They sat in the same car in the same spot on the return trip down and the same thing happened. This time, Warrender’s friend shined a light between the slats of the seat.
“And then we saw all of the bugs,” Warrender said.
Another passenger ran a magazine into the area, and it became stained with blood from the bedbugs, which are parasites that feed on the blood of unsuspecting hosts.
They told the incline operator, and Warrender notified the Port Authority and Allegheny County Health Department as well.
“I really just want this to be taken care for the general public,” she said. “It’s something that spreads so easily. They’re so small, and they just jump on you and you have no idea.”
Instead of going to the baseball game, they traveled back to Hershey, where Warrender’s mother lives.
They counted 102 bites on her, Warrender said, and her friend was bitten 10 times.
On Tuesday, she was back in Colorado and planned on going to her doctor and laundering her clothing again to be sure no bugs are lingering.
“It’s just a stressful thing,” she said, wondering whether any bugs are still on her belongings.
On her next visit to Pittsburgh, she won’t be taking a trip on the incline.
“I’ll just drive to the top,” she said of visiting Mt. Washington.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .