Paris: A bed bug infestation is sweeping through Paris, with reports of the blood-sucking pests on buses and trains and inside movie theatres and hotels. As millions visit the popular city, the bed bugs could potentially travel home with visitors.
The deputy mayor recently warned that “no one is safe” from a bedbug infestation, fuelling anxiety among residents of the French capital and people planning to travel there.
The recent outbreak has captured government officials’ attention, especially With the Paris Olympics less than a year away, when millions of visitors are expected to descend on Paris. French authorities want to make sure the bedbugs don't bite during the games and have started a drive to exterminate the pests.
Social media users have been publishing footage of the insects crawling around in high-speed trains and the Paris metro, alongside a rash of online articles about bedbugs in cinemas and even Charles de Gaulle airport.
Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne called a meeting of ministers for Friday to tackle the bedbug crisis. The country’s transport minister, Clement Beaune, met this week with transportation companies to draw up a plan for monitoring and disinfecting — and to try to ease what some have called a national psychosis inflamed by the media.
“There is no resurgence of cases,” Beaune said, telling reporters that 37 cases reported in the bus and Metro system and a dozen others on trains proved unfounded — as did viral videos on social media of tiny creatures supposedly burrowing in the seat of a fast train.
More than one households in France was infested with bedbugs between 2017 and 2022, according to a report by the National Agency for Health and Food Safety.
The French public began moving into panic mode about a month ago after reports of bedbugs at a Paris movie theater. Videos began popping up on social networks, showing little insects on trains and buses.
Bedbugs, an age-old curse on humans, seemingly disappeared with treatment by harsh, now-banned insecticides. They made a reappearance in the 1950s, especially in densely populated cities like New York. And they travel the world thanks to commerce and tourism.
That adds up to a bedbug challenge for the Paris Olympics starting in July.
Bedbugs are active mainly at night and usually bite you while you're sleeping. They pierce the skin and take your blood through their long beaks. The bugs feed from 3 minutes to 10 minutes until they're full, then crawl away. If you have a bedbug bite, you may notice an itchy spot on your skin.
Bedbugs can lurk on train seats and headboards and inside the walls of public buildings. They can be found behind picture frames, inside plug sockets and under armrests. They can embed in clothing, hitching rides on the pant legs and coats of unsuspecting commuters.
The crawling insects cannot fly or jump, and they do not typically live on the human body. In most cases, they feed and leave.
The insects are more prevalent in densely populated areas where there is rapid resident turnover, like apartment buildings, hostels and holiday camps. In recent years, hospitals, hotels, libraries, prisons and offices from London to New York have reported outbreaks.