“No one is safe,” said the deputy mayor of Paris, which is battling a bed bug “infestation” 9 months before the Olympics
The small, blood-sucking insects have been spotted all over the French capitol — on the Metro (Paris’s public transportation system), in hotels and movie theaters and at the Charles de Gaulle airport.
“No one is safe,” Deputy Mayor of Paris Emmanuel Grégoire posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Sept. 29. “Faced with a bedbug infestation, coordinated measures are needed that bring together health authorities, communities and all relevant stakeholders to prevent the risk and act effectively."
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Grégoire reached out to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, writing, "The state urgently needs to put an action plan in place against this scourge as France is preparing to welcome the Olympic and Paralympic games in 2024," according to Reuters. The outlet added that Transport Minister Clement Beaune was going to address the infestation on public transportation this week.
“My back was full of bites,” one victim of bed bugs told Le Parisien this summer after being bitten at a movie theater.
Companies that specialize in bed bug treatment — a service that can cost up to $500 — told CBS News that they’ve been inundated with requests in recent weeks.
According to a survey by Anses, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, “Between 2017 and 2022, more than one in 10 French households were infested by bed bugs.”
The Mayo Clinic says bed bugs aren’t known carriers of disease and don’t present any health risks unless someone is allergic to the bites, but the bugs — small, flat, reddish-brown insects that are the size of an apple seed — can severely impact someone’s mental health.
“Psychological sequelae resulting from bed bug biting events include nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance (to keep the bugs away), insomnia, anxiety, avoidance behaviors, and personal dysfunction,” the American Journal of Medicine reports, comparing the effects of bed bugs to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“That really traumatized me,” train passenger Laura Mmadi told CNN following an encounter with the pests. “I’ll keep my luggage closed to prevent them from getting to my home.”
Bed bugs generally hide during the day, coming out at night to feed. “The fact that we can actually see them means that there are a lot of them,” another passenger, Luc Villette, pointed out to CNN, “And in addition, they’re being seen in the day…so there is a big problem somewhere.”
If one does end up bringing home bed bugs, the Environmental Protection Agency says "don't panic."
"It can be difficult to eliminate bed bugs, but it’s not impossible," the agency says, recommending reducing clutter — where bed bugs like to hide — and taking measures like wrapping your mattress in a protective encasement.
Regular washing and vacuuming can help, but the EPA points out that "hiring an experienced, responsible pest control professional can increase your chance of success in getting rid of bed bugs."
In the meantime, the city has until the Olympics Opening Ceremony on July 26 to get the problem under control for visitors.
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