‘No one is safe’: Bedbugs surge in Paris ahead of 2024 Olympics

Videos of bedbugs spotted on public transport and cinemas have surfaced on social media. Credit: Pexels

A surge in bedbugs are sparking fears among the people of Paris ahead of the world's biggest sporting event.

The French capital city has seen a sudden increase in bedbugs, leading to the government vowing to take action against the small blood-sucking insects.

Bedbugs often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems, the NHS says.

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said 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 insect, on Friday.

Mr Beaune's announcement comes as calls for government action from Paris officials and trade unions mount after several videos of bedbugs spotted in public transport and other locations such as cinemas have surfaced on social media.

Speaking to French TV station LCI on Friday, deputy mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire called the phenomenon “widespread.”

“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,” he said, according to CNN.

Three years ago, the French government launched an anti-bedbug campaign, which includes a dedicated website and an information hotline, as numbers of the insects surged.

But Gregoire said despite the scheme, “there are 3.6 million people who come into Paris every day, and bedbugs do not stop on the outskirts of the city.”

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 traveling, the fact that people stay in short-term accommodation and bring back bedbugs in their suitcases or luggage,” Johanna Fite from the Anses department of risk assessment 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 told CNN.

The news comes as Paris gets ready to host the 2024 Olympics Games, but officials say they are not worried.

“There is no threat to the Olympic Games,” Gregoire said.

“Bedbugs existed before and they will exist afterward,” he added, saying the games were an “opportunity” for everybody to work together on the issue.

Signs of bedbugs

  • Bites often on skin exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms

  • Spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug

  • Small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

How to treat bedbug bites

Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so but you can:

  • Putting something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area to help with the itching and any swelling

  • Keeping the affected area clean

  • Not scratching the bites to avoid getting an infection

How do I get rid of bedbugs?

  • Wash affected bedding and clothing on a hot wash (60C) and tumble dry on a hot setting for at least 30 minutes.

  • Put affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for three or four days.

  • Clean and vacuum regularly - bedbugs are found in both clean and dirty places, but regular cleaning will help you spot them early.

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