Bugs on the bus go ’round and ’round

You could catch more than the CAT when you ride city buses. File photo You could catch more than the CAT when you ride city buses. File photo

Former Albemarle School Board member Gary Grant had an appointment at UVA WorkMed Clinic last month and he struck up a conversation with a Charlottesville Area Transit bus driver. As a former school bus driver himself, Grant asked the driver if he was in for a random drug test.

It was even worse.

The driver was there for bugs irritating his skin, and he said it happens to a lot of CAT drivers, says Grant. “The CAT buses are full of bugs,” he recounts from his conversation with the driver, who said some who are sensitive to the bugs end up with rashes and nasty itching.

CAT has received two to three complaints from its drivers saying they believe they have received bug bites on buses this year, according to city spokesperson Brian Wheeler.

“At this time, drivers have been unable to see the bugs or know how they were bitten,” says Wheeler in an email. “Some drivers have been seen in a medical facility, but they report that medical personnel cannot identify the nature of the bite or the cause of the rash or irritation.”

And in case we were wondering, “Charlottesville Area Transit cleans its buses every day,” says Wheeler.

The Virginia Department of Health has nothing on the mysterious itch-causing insects. “I do not have any information to provide you about the bugs at this time,” says Kathryn Goodman, spokesperson for the Thomas Jefferson Health District.

Grant says it was his perception that it was more than two or three drivers getting bitten. “It was serious enough,” he says. “He wasn’t being funny.”

And he wonders about all the passengers who suffer from hitchhiking bugs from other passengers, and then going home and not being able to figure out why they have skin problems.

“A lot of people ride buses,” observes Grant.