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Bed bugs infest Paris, resulting in ‘general psychosis’

Paris is grappling with a bed bug crisis, with the wretched creatures even on public transport.

In September, there were reports on social media that bed bugs had been seen crawling around cinemas and now the blood-sucking critters are riding the Metro.

There have been reports from Parisians and tourists alike about bed bugs being spotted in hotels and at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance Party is poised to tackle the “scourge” of bed bugs and by the end of the year there could be a bill to combat the surging number of cases.

Speaking on France Inter, Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau said there was no need for the public to panic, insisting that Paris has not been “invaded” by the blood suckers.

However, the Deputy Mayor of Paris had a different take.

No one is safe,” Emmanuel Grégoire wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

“Faced with a bed bug infestation, co-ordinated measures are needed that bring together health authorities, communities and all relevant stakeholders to prevent the risk and act effectively.”

The rise of bed bugs is particularly concerning given Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics, when an estimated 500,000 people will travel to the City of Love.

As for the locals, many are on edge.

“Everyone is panicking,” Sacha Krief, a pest control store manager, told Reuters.

“People can really get depressed, even paranoid over it.”

Bed bug paranoia?

France’s leading expert on bed bugs, Jean-Michel Berenger, an entomologist at Marseille, told the BBC there is an increase in bed bugs every year in the late summer.

“That is because people have been moving about over July and August, and they bring them back in their luggage,” he said, adding each seasonal increase is “bigger than the last one”.

He said this year, a “general psychosis” has taken hold.

“It is a good thing in a way because it serves to make people aware of the problem, and the sooner you act against bedbugs the better,” he said.

“But a lot of the problem is being exaggerated.”

This photograph taken on October 3, 2023 shows a product used to eradicate bedbugs at the Hygiene Premium, pest control shop in Paris.

The French government said in September it was launching a concerted effort to fight bed bugs. Photo: Getty

Although there have been videos of the pests crawling on seats on the Metro and other videos of people frantically checking their seats, transport operator RATP hasn’t found any on its services.

RATP operates the Metro and in a statement to CNN it said there had been “no proven cases of bed bugs recorded in our equipment” in recent days.

The operator also said that each sighting is taken into account and “subject to a treatment”.

Additionally, SNCF, the national state-owned railway company, told CNN it also had not seen any bed bugs on its trains, but reports of pests were taken “very seriously”.

Bed bugs in 10 per cent of homes

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) found that from 2017 to 2022 one in 10 households in France had bed bugs.

Anyone can “fall victim” to bed bugs; having an infestation does not indicate a lack of cleanliness, ANSES stated.

“Bed bugs are small insects that usually hide in mattresses and bed frames,” ANSES said.

“They live on blood and bite humans during the night. They can be carried in clothing and luggage, when travelling or buying second-hand bedding, furniture and clothes.

“The upsurge in bed-bug infestations in recent years has been due in particular to the rise in travel and the increasing resistance of bed bugs to insecticides.”

Bed bugs can be found all over the world, including Australia.

They are not known to spread disease, but the US Environmental Protection Agency considers them to be a “pest of significant public health importance”.

The bites can leave behind nothing, a small bite mark or even trigger an allergic reaction, the US CDC said.

Excessive scratching of bites can lead to serious skin infections, not to mention their bites ruining sleep.

Additionally, they can be a financial burden, when treatment expenses and potential psychological and health impacts are considered.

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