A “scourge” of bedbugs has been the hot topic emerging from Paris, despite the glamour of the last decadent gasps of Fashion Week. France’s officials have warned about the widespread outbreak of bedbugs in public areas throughout the capital. This is particularly concerning given that the city is expecting an influx of tourists for the upcoming 2024 Olympics, and there are growing concerns about the potential health and safety implications.
The blood-sucking parasites are tiny, about a quarter inch, and prefer dark, cramped areas where they feed on sleeping humans and animals. What started as reports of them taking residence in hotels and vacation homes has turned into a widespread invasion of public spaces. Residents and tourists have recently been taking to social media to share repulsive footage of the parasites crawling over seats in the Paris metro and high-speed trains. There are also reports of bed bugs spotted in cinemas and at Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Bedbugs have been widely discussed on television talk shows, causing some nationwide anxiety, particularly in Paris. Although there is mostly anecdotal evidence, experts have noted a resurgence of bedbugs in households throughout Paris, New York, and other cities in recent decades. This is due to increased international travel and the bugs’ developing resistance to pesticides after being all but wiped out in the mid-20th century.
Transport Minister Clement Beaune has called for a meeting with public transport operators this week to establish countermeasures against bedbug infestations and reassure the public. Despite the growing fears and tension relating to the upcoming Olympics, the Deputy Mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, has advised against panicking over concerns about the Olympics. He reassures that there is “no threat” to the games and urges everyone to collaborate to resolve any issues. He also reminded everyone that bedbugs have always existed and will continue to do so, as per CNN.
However, as fears and infestations spread, other countries have become watchful. According to CBS, Moroccan media reported that Tangiers Port and Health authorities implemented monitoring protocols to prevent bedbugs from France-bound vessels.
The French government agency ANSES reported that 11 percent of French households experienced bedbugs between 2017 and 2022, regardless of wealth. The parasites are found worldwide and have been a nuisance for hundreds of years.
Bed bugs were a major problem in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s, with a large percentage of homes in major cities affected. In Greater London, around half of the population encountered bed bugs annually; in some areas, almost all households were affected. The introduction of pesticides was thought to eliminate the problem, but instead, bed bugs developed resistance and have since become more difficult to eradicate. Killing them now requires more advanced products and methods that the bugs cannot become resistant to, such as neuron blockers.
Bedbugs thrive in areas where people sleep. They often hitch rides on luggage and clothing, making high-travel areas vulnerable. They do not seek dirty environments and don’t spread diseases, but they can cause skin irritation. If you see evidence of bedbugs or are bitten, wash clothing and seek pest control services.