Ahead of the Summer 2024 Olympics, Paris is crawling with bedbugs in its homes, hotels, theatres and public transportation due to an uptick in travel.
- Bedbugs were found across Parisian hotels, homes, Airbnbs and other rental apartments over the summer, the critters were then sighted in movie theaters and now there are reports of the bugs crawling around on public transportation.
- Public officials are facing pressures to eliminate the pest problem as Paris is slated to host the Summer 2024 Olympics, leading Paris deputy mayor Emmanuel Grégoire to call on Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne to organize a conference to address the issue, saying this is a “public health problem.”
- Residents and travelers have taken to the internet to post their encounters with the pests, like this X (formerly known as Twitter) user who posted a video of a suspected bedbug crawling on a commuter train.
- French transport minister Clement Beaune said in a post on X he will have a meeting this week to “undertake further action” to “reassure and protect” the public from the unwanted critters.
- A user shared photos of inflamed bites, claiming she got them after watching a movie at UGC Cinemas, stating the theater is “infested with bedbugs.”
- This led to UGC Cinemas posting an apology letter detailing their emergency response procedures, which included canine inspections and high-temperature steam treatments.
77.7 million. That’s how many tourists visited France annually between 2010 and 2021, according to a report by luggage storage company Radical Storage, making France the most visited country in the world – and Paris the most popular city in the world’s most visited country.
France was the fifth-most traveled to country by Americans in 2019, with a total of 3.1 million U.S. tourists visiting that year, Statistica reports, citing the National Travel and Tourism Office.
Over one in 10 French households were infested with bedbugs between 2017 and 2022, according to a report by Anses, the French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health and Safety.
The agency connected the rise in bedbugs to an uptick in travel and the critters’ resistance to insecticides. Anses calculated that the cost of bedbug infestations to the nation’s health was 83 million euros, or $87.8 million, in 2019.
There was no link between the amount of money a household made and their chance of bedbug infestation, though higher income houses were able to afford treatment.
Because of this, the agency recommends “certain households be provided with financial assistance to cover the costs associated with exterminating bed bugs.”
Bedbugs are tiny, flat, reddish-brown insects about a quarter inch long before they feed. They come out at night and usually hide out during the day in bed frames, mattresses, box springs and headboards and in the cracks of walls, furniture and floors.
People can get bedbugs by coming into contact with infested furniture and areas, or the pests can latch onto purses, bags or luggage.
The bugs can travel between rooms in apartments or hotels, so it’s important to lay suitcases on stands—not the bed or floors—and wash clothes immediately and put them in a hot dryer.
Signs of bedbug infestation include reddish, rusty stains on furniture and mattresses, small dark spots on fabric, eggs and eggshells about one millimeter in size, yellow shedded skin and live bugs.
Bedbugs feed on human blood and their bites typically cause itchy red welts that appear in a zigzag pattern, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association. They’re usually in a cluster of around three to five bites within the zigzag pattern.
Though most bedbug bites go away on their own, treatment may include over-the-counter or prescription steroid cream, over-the-counter pain relief, or antihistamine for itching or burning or Benadryl before bed.
On average, professional bedbug control can cost anywhere between $300 and $5,000, according to home improvement company This Old House.
However, do-it-yourself options include using silicone caulk to seal small hiding spots, removing infested items and furniture that cannot be treated, using protective covers for mattresses to trap the bugs in and kill them, using heat treatments like clothes dryers set to high heat, steam cleaners to get into hard-to-reach cracks and cold treatments like using a freezer set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit to kill the bugs.
This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.