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New York Juicy Couture store reopens after bed bug scare

From Ashley Vaughan, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fashion retailer Juicy Couture reopened its 5th Avenue store after finding bed bugs earlier this week
  • Retailer: "We have taken all the necessary steps to eradicate them"
  • The bugs leave itchy bite marks on the skin, and some people are allergic to them

New York (CNN) -- New York fashion retailer Juicy Couture reopened its 5th Avenue store in Manhattan on Friday, after shutting its doors earlier this week when employees discovered bed bugs.

"We have taken all the necessary steps to eradicate them," the company said in a written statement. "The safety and well-being of our customers and employees has been our top priority throughout this process, and we thank everyone for their patience and understanding."

The 15,000-square-foot clothing store closed Tuesday when employees discovered the insects after store hours, said company spokesman Joseph Assad,

An exterminating company was called, he said, removing and treating all of the store's merchandise in an effort to eliminate the outbreak -- the latest bed bug problem affecting stores and hotels across the city.

Juicy Couture is owned by Liz Claiborne Inc., a New York-based fashion company.

Customers affected by the outbreak may make returns to the store, Assad said. "Our primary concern is to our customers, store employees and their well-being."

The retailer's three other stores in the city were also tested as a precaution, but no bed bugs were found at any of those locations, he said.

The average bed bug is a wingless blood-sucking insect that grows up to 7 millimeters in length, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The bugs leave itchy bite marks on the skin, and some people are allergic to them.

Calls to exterminators over bed bugs have increased 81 percent since 2000, according to the National Pest Management Association, which conducted the 2010 Comprehensive Global Bed Bug Study with the University of Kentucky.

Last month, lawmakers and industry leaders met in Washington to discuss the outbreak at the Congressional Bed Bug Forum, hosted by Reps. G.K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina, and Don Young, R-Alaska.