Paris, the city of love, is facing a new enemy: bedbugs. The blood-sucking insects have been spreading across the French capital, causing panic and discomfort among residents and tourists. The government has launched a campaign to fight the infestation, which could tarnish the image of Paris ahead of the 2024 Olympics.
Bedbugs on the rise in France
Bedbugs are small, oval-shaped insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night and hide in cracks and crevices during the day. They can be found in mattresses, furniture, clothing, luggage and other places where people sleep or rest. Bedbugs do not transmit diseases, but their bites can cause itching, inflammation and allergic reactions.
According to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety (ANSES), more than one in 10 households in France were infested by bedbugs between 2017 and 2022. The number of reported cases increased by 76% between 2018 and 2019, reaching 400,000 addresses, including hotels, apartments and houses.
The rise in bedbugs in France is linked to several factors, such as increasing global travel, insecticide resistance, lack of awareness and poor hygiene practices. Bedbugs can hitchhike on clothing, luggage and other items from one place to another. They can also survive for months without feeding.
Bedbugs spark public outcry in Paris
In recent weeks, bedbugs have been spotted in various public places in Paris, such as cinemas, metro trains, high-speed trains and the Charles de Gaulle airport. Some people have posted videos and photos of bedbugs on social media, triggering alarm and disgust among the public.
The deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Gregoire, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne last week, urging the government to take urgent action against the bedbug scourge. He said that the problem was not only affecting the quality of life of Parisians, but also the reputation of the city as a tourist destination.
He also said that the bedbug issue could pose a threat to the success of the 2024 Olympics Games, which are expected to attract half a million visitors to Paris. He called for a national plan to prevent and control bedbug infestations, involving public authorities, health professionals, pest control companies and citizens.
Government launches anti-bedbug campaign
In response to the public outcry, the government announced last week that it was launching a concerted effort to fight bedbugs across the country. The campaign includes a dedicated website (Stop Punaises), a toll-free hotline (0 806 706 806) and a series of measures to raise awareness, provide information and support victims.
The website offers practical advice on how to identify, prevent and treat bedbug infestations. It also provides a list of certified pest control companies that can intervene in case of an emergency. The hotline is available from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and can answer questions and direct callers to appropriate services.
The government also said that it would allocate more resources to research and innovation on bedbug detection and eradication methods. It would also work with local authorities, hotel owners, transport operators and other stakeholders to coordinate actions and share best practices.
The government assured that it was taking the bedbug problem seriously and that it was not worried about the impact on the 2024 Olympics Games. It said that bedbugs existed before and they would exist afterward, but that the games were an opportunity for everyone to work together on the issue.