The French government has vowed to tackle the “scourge” of bedbugs in Paris that threatens to overshadow the 2024 Olympic Games.
Social media users have been publishing footage of the insects crawling around in high-speed trains and the Paris metro, alongside a raft of online articles about bedbugs in cinemas and even Charles de Gaulle airport.
Emmanuel Gregoire, the deputy mayor of Paris, said: “You have to understand that in reality no one is safe. Obviously there are risk factors but in reality, you can catch bedbugs anywhere and bring them home.
“The state urgently needs to put an action plan in place against this scourge as France is preparing to welcome the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2024,” he said in a letter to Elisabeth Borne, the prime minister, last week.
Clement Beaune, the transport minister, said on Friday he would “bring together transport operators next week” to “undertake further action” to “reassure and protect” the public from the reported surge in the numbers of the blood-sucking parasites.
Three years ago, the French government launched an anti-bedbug campaign, which includes a dedicated website and an information hotline, as numbers of the insect surged.
An expert from France’s national health and sanitary body, Anses, said the problem was “an emerging phenomenon in France and almost everywhere in the world”.
“It’s mainly due to the movement of people, populations travelling, the fact that people stay in short-term accommodation and bring back bedbugs in their suitcases or luggage,” Johanna Fite told CNN.
She added there was an “escalation” in numbers because bedbugs were increasingly resistant to insecticides.
“We are observing more and more bedbug populations which are resistant, so there is no miracle treatment to get rid of them,” Fite said.
Plague already in UK
In Britain, pest controllers said the boom in post-pandemic travel has created a bedbug crisis with an average bill of £1,000 to eradicate the pests from a three-bedroom house.
Hugh Barrie, who runs the Bed Bug Doctor in Bournemouth, said the plague had already spread to the UK: “We have three vans working flat out at the moment treating homes and we just focus on the south coast from Brighton to Cornwall.
“After the pandemic everyone was desperate to travel abroad and cases in the UK have doubled. We are out every day tackling them in houses, apartments, holiday parks and Airbnbs. It costs around £1,000 to treat a three-bedroom house.
“They are everywhere, even on trains and planes. It’s a big problem in the UK.”
Mr Barrie said sprays were not enough on their own to kill bed bugs as the chemicals would not destroy the bed-bug eggs. To do this, his team treats infested homes with an industrial heater to raise the temperature to 48 degrees for two to three hours.
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