Bed bugs in Paris causes global panic - is Australia next?

Is the Paris bed bug "outbreak" really as bad as seen online? What you need to know.

The bed bug "plague" of Paris has been sending travellers and people across the globe into hysteria.

A spate of viral videos online showing bed bugs infesting movie theatres, trains, and homes in Paris and other French cities, causing widespread fear on social media. Paris's Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Grégoire even shared on social media last week that "no one is safe".

But not everyone agrees that the panic is justified. French Transport Minister Clément Beaune and French Health Minister Aurélien Rousseau have both calling for calm and factual reporting, stating there is no resurgence of bed bugs.

With all the heated debate and anxiety online, many have been left wondering if this reported outbreak is something Aussies need to worry about too. Entomologist Dr Tom White from the University of Sydney has assured Australians that "[we] don't need to let the panic take hold of us."

"I wouldn't lose sleep over it," he told Yahoo News Australia.

Three images left to right. Left and middle photos show bed bugs on furniture and right image shows a close up of a bed bug on skin.
Bed bugs are reportedly "infesting" Paris but some think the panic is unfounded. Source: Supplied / Getty

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small, oval-shaped insects that can grow up to about 5mm long and usually are cream or brown in colour, according to the Australian Health Direct website.

Bed bugs feed on blood and are commonly seen on mattresses, clothing, or other furniture. Their bites look like red, itchy spots and are most likely to be found on legs, arms and shoulders.

Why are bed bugs reportedly on the rise in Paris?

Though some of the infestation reports are still unproven, with the warmer weather seen in France recently, it's not a complete surprise that these insects are active there at the moment.

"Bed bug populations pick up in warm weather, like most other cold-blooded insects, and France have been enjoying a warmer end to their summer season," Dr White explained.

An uptick in international travel seen in the last few decades has also meant they've been making a comeback over the years, with people bringing the hungry hitchhikers back from their holidays.

Should Aussies fear a similar bed bug infestation?

With summer around the corner, many have been returning from their trips to Europe, but Dr White told Yahoo a huge outbreak isn't something we need to panic over.

"We get them here in Australia already, realistically anyone can get them, but if you find them and jump on it immediately if shouldn't become a serious infestation," he said.

He told Yahoo that just like our recent Sydney fly explosion, a spike really isn't something to immediately panic about.

Do you have a story about creepy critters? Contact reporter Laura Koefoed at

How to know if you have bed bugs

You'll know if you end up being an unlucky host of the tiny, itchy critters if you:

  • regularly wake up with bites,

  • find little bugs on your mattress, bed frame and other furniture, and/or

  • see brown spotting or blood spots on your mattress.

How to get rid of bed bugs

Heat over 50 degrees celsius is the best way to get rid of these unwanted pests.

  • Steam clean your mattress and furniture to kill the eggs.

  • Wash your sheets and clothes in hot water.

  • Don't use pesticides unless your outbreak is severe. In this case, call a professional.

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