Bed Bug Alert: iPhone App Finds Oubreaks Near You

PHOTO The Bed Bug Alert iPhone application lets users report and search for bed bug infestations in their area. This screen grab shows reported bed bug outbreaks in the Manhattan area.

If a fear of bed bugs is keeping you housebound, an iPhone app developer has the solution for you.

Launched about a week ago, Bed Bug Alert lets users search for and report bed bug outbreaks in their area.

On your way to a movie but worried that you might end up itchy? About to book a hotel room but afraid you'll come home with a suitcase full of the persistent pests?

For $1.99, you can download the application and search any location in the country to see if anyone has reported an infestation or search the directory to find outbreaks near any place you plan to go.

Search New York City, for example, and you'll start scratching at just the sight of all the reported outbreaks that appear on the map.

App List Top 10 U.S. Cities for Bed Bugs

Adam Kotkin, CEO of Apps Genius Corporation, the company behind the app, said he lives in New York and launched the application after hearing of all the bed bug-infested movie theatres, hotels and point of interest around the city.

In the past few months, the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotel, the iconic Bloomingdales and multiple movie theaters and retail stores have been accused of bed bug blitzes.

"We're in a pandemic right now. I think we're beyond epidemic at this point," he quipped. "And I was freaked out, for lack of a better word, going to movies, going to public places where you sit in other people's seats, taking public transportation."

When he realized that there wasn't one central database of bed bug outbreaks mentioned in news stories, reported to the health department or listed elsewhere, he decided to create one.

"I thought there was no common place for someone on the go to know what's been reported around them and, unfortunately, when you look at Manhattan, they're almost everywhere," he said.

He said his staff culls infestation reports from a variety of sources around the country and combines them with user-submitted reports to provide users with a geo-tagged database of bed bug outbreaks. s

Users can look at the top 10 cities with bed bug problems or search for reports in any part of the country. Kotkin said his staff tries to verify the legitimacy of user-based reports and removes reports if they are inaccurate.

In the past week, the application has been downloaded a few thousand times, and Kotkin said that even he has been surprised by the thousands of reports from bed bug victims.

"People don't realize how bad it is," he said. "I think it's making users more aware."

"Bed Bug Alert" is just the latest iPhone and iPod Touch application to hit Apple's App store.

Take a look at a few others below:

'Bump' Your Phones and Split a Check?

It's the one major drawback of a group dinner out: The check arrives, and everyone struggles to pay in a chaotic clash of cards, cash and IOUs.

But a new version of an iPhone app from PayPal attempts to take the pain out of splitting the bill.

Released in March, the application helps PayPal and iPhone customers transfer money by simply bumping their phones together.

PayPal, an eBay company based in San Jose, Calif., lets registered users send money securely over the Internet.

Founded in 1998 (and acquired by eBay in 2002), it has more than 78 million active accounts in 19 currencies.

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