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Paris Olympics facing a ‘Bedbug Battle’, will the pests win Gold in 2024?

france wary over bed bugs spread
Salim Dahou, biocide technician of the company Hygiene Premium, sprays insecticide against bedbugs on a sofa bed in L'Hay-les-Roses, near Paris, France, September 29, 2023. REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq

With the Paris Olympics less than a year away, French authorities want to make sure the bedbugs don’t bite during the games and have started a drive to exterminate the pests.

According to entomologists there is a big increase in bedbugs towards the end of summer because people have been moving about over July and August, and they bring them back in their luggage.

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.

The reports have reached the highest levels of government.

“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,” the capital’s deputy mayor, Emmanuel Gregoire, said in a letter to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne this week.

Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on Friday he will discuss the issue with transport operators next week.

At the Paris Gare de Lyon train station, travellers said they doubted whether authorities would be able to get on top of the problem.

“I’m worried about it. I’ll keep my luggage closed to stop (bedbugs) getting into my home. Once I get home, I’ll have to wash all my clothes,” Laura Mmadi, a sales worker heading to the south of France said.

Coming into Paris from Nice, Sophie Ruscica said she had inspected her seat closely for any signs of the insects that feed on human blood and can live in a wide range of habitats as well as beds.

“It stressed me out. I had to take the train and I wondered whether I would find bedbugs. But then again, one can find them in cinemas and just about everywhere,” she said.

In a report published in July, health agency Anses said that between 2017 and 2022, bedbugs had infested more than one in ten French households.

“Everyone is panicking,” pest control store manager Sacha Krief said. “People can really get depressed, even paranoid over it.”

Deputy mayor Gregoire called on insurers to include bedbug cover in house insurance policies, as low-income people rarely had the means to call in pest control firms.

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