One Manhattan woman claims she got bitten by bedbugs at a Times Square movie theater, but the theater says recent tests show no evidence of the blood-sucking critters in the building.
Still, Laura Perkins has a vivid description of the round, red sores on her back.
"It's like chicken pox on steroids," she said. But it's not chicken pox, and the only steroid involved is a cortisone cream she's been using to stop the constant itching.
"This is from a bedbug," Perkins told NBC New York. "It feels like a bruise and takes two weeks to go away."
Perkins said she knows from experience. In 2008, while living in an apartment in Harlem, she got bitten repeatedly by bedbugs.
Three years later, now living in Morningside Heights, Perkins says she fears she got bitten at the AMC Empire 25 Theatres in Times Square. She attended the multiplex with her husband on Saturday to see "Friends With Benefits."
"It was date night, and it was a good movie," said Perkins, "but about halfway through, I started itching."
A spokesman for the theater chain, Ryan Noonan, told NBC New York Perkins' concerns are misplaced.
"We take aggressive, proactive steps to ensure our theatres remain free of bedbugs," Noonan wrote in an e-mail. "During the month of July, weekly inspections were conducted at AMC Empire 25 by a third-party pest control agency. The most recent inspection, conducted July 31, was performed less than 24 hours after a guest had voiced concern about the issue. All inspections revealed no bedbug presence in the building."
However, two doctors contacted by NBC New York said after reviewing photographs of her bites that the marks appear to be consistent with bedbugs. The question is where she got them. Could it have been the subway? Her apartment? A restaurant? Or the theater?
In the past year, several moviehouses in the tri-state area have had confirmed bedbug sightings. AMC Empire 25 had its own confirmed case in August 2010, and has since ordered regular inspections.