A Walmart store is seen in Landover, Maryland. Image Credit: AFP

Washington: The authorities are investigating the discovery of pill bottles filled with bedbugs inside a Walmart in Pennsylvania.

A manager at the store, in Washington Township, about 25 miles south of Erie, reported that an employee found a closed pill bottle containing live bugs Thursday inside the men’s changing room, according to the Pennsylvania State Police, which is investigating.

The bottle was inside a boy’s jacket that was for sale, the police said.

Walmart disposed of the jacket and bottle, and contacted Ecolab, a hygiene and energy technologies company, which sent an employee to the store Friday, the police said.

The employee reported finding bugs crawling around the men’s fitting room, the police said. The insects were identified as bedbugs.

On Saturday, a Walmart employee found a second closed pill bottle with several dead bugs on the floor of the men’s department, near the belts, the police said.

A trooper collected that bottle for fingerprints, Trooper Cindy Schick, a Pennsylvania State Police spokeswoman, said Monday.

Although the discoveries of the bottles have the hallmarks of a prank, Schick said: “I would hope that it was not a prank by an employee. It sounds as if two separate employees found two separate bottles two days in a row.”

No arrests have been made.

Schick said that, at this point, the episode would be considered disorderly conduct, and that it appeared to have been an isolated episode.

“We have not had any other incidents in our area involving bedbugs,” she said.

She said that Walmart was reviewing the store’s surveillance video. The Pennsylvania Walmart, which is open, referred questions to its corporate office.

“Our third-party pest management service has visited the store, and after conducting a thorough review found no evidence of an infestation,” the company said in a statement. “We believe this to be an isolated incident and are taking all the necessary steps to help ensure a safe environment for customers and associates.”

Bedbugs are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of people and animals as they sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The insects, which can measure from 1 to 7 millimetres, or about the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny, are reddish-brown in colour, the centre said.

The bugs do not spread disease, but they can be pests by causing itching, scratching and loss of sleep. They can survive for months without a blood meal.