(CNN)The USS Connecticut, one of the most elite submarines in the US Navy, was infested with bedbugs, and some crew members chose to sleep in their cars.
A complaint was first filed in December after crew members reported bedbugs onboard while the submarine was moored at Naval Base Kitsap- Bremerton in Washington, but entomologists couldn't find the infestation until nearly a month later. Mattresses were replaced and all floors and linens received full chemical treatment to eradicate the bedbugs. Crew members have since safely returned to the submarine.
Chief Amanda Gray, deputy public affairs officer of the Navy Pacific Fleet's submarine force, told CNN that as soon as crew members brought the complaint of bedbugs to Navy leadership, a team of preventive medicine technicians was called from Naval Hospital Bremerton to search the submarine.
"They have to actually find a bedbug for them to actually do something to really treat it because you know, there are all kinds of things that can cause, you know, itching your skin. They have to confirm that that's really the issue (bedbugs) before they actually start tackling it," said Gray.
Once the bedbugs were identified, work began to chemically treat all infected surfaces on the submarine. However, while the treatment process was ongoing, some sailors' families told local media that crew members slept in cars until the Navy set up a temporary structure to house the displaced crew. Gray confirmed to CNN that temporary berthing was set up nearby for sailors while the submarine underwent chemical treatment.
No health issues were reported by sailors on board during the bedbug infestation, except for a "couple bites here and there," said Gray.
Daily inspections continue onboard the submarine to ensure the space stays bedbug-free, including proper laundering of all linens.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that bedbug infestations have recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the US. Cleanliness does not necessarily determine whether bedbugs will be found, as they usually reside around or near where people sleep. They hide during the day in places like mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, and headboards. A bite from a bedbug is not considered dangerous but can lead to an allergic reaction.