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Paris bedbug crisis: What are bedbugs and how can you get rid of them?

Blood-sucker: The bedbug
Blood-sucker: The bedbug

France is being over-run with bedbugs in its capital, ahead of hosting the Olympic Games 2024.

The surge of critters is being seen in Paris, with the sudden increase even resulting in the country’s Government launching a campaign against the creepy bugs.

The French Government has vowed to take action against the small blood-sucking insects.

French transport minister Clement Beaune said he would “bring together transport operators next week” to “undertake further action” to “reassure and protect” the public from the reported surge in the numbers of the pests.

Footage of the bugs has been shared with the government of the critter infiltrating public transport, local hotspots in the capital, and even cinemas.

Speaking to French TV station LCI on Friday, deputy mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire called the phenomenon “widespread”.

He said: “You have to understand that in reality no-one is safe. Obviously, there are risk factors but, in reality, you can catch bedbugs anywhere and bring them home.”

What’s happening in Paris?

Three years ago, the French government launched an anti-bedbug campaign after seeing an increase in the numbers being reported, and even now there is a dedicated website and hotline to help those who may be suffering with an infestation.

The insects are being seen more and more frequently in Paris, which has led to the government getting involved again.

Mr Gregoire has said he does not believe this is a problem that is confined to Paris.

He explained: “There are 3.6 million people who come into Paris every day, and bedbugs do not stop on the outskirts of the city.”

An expert from France’s national health and sanitary body, Anses, said the problem was “an emerging phenomenon in France and almost everywhere in the world.

“It’s mainly due to the movement of people, populations traveling, the fact that people stay in short-term accommodation and bring back bedbugs in their suitcases or luggage,” Johanna Fite, from the Anses department of risk assessment, told CNN after a video emerged of the bugs on public transport.

What are bedbugs?

According to the NHS website, bedbugs are small insects that often live on furniture or bedding. Their bites can be itchy, but do not usually cause other health problems.

They can be dark yellow, red, or brown, with adults normally measuring around 5mm long.

The NHS said: “Bedbugs can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing, furniture, behind pictures, and under loose wallpaper.

“Signs of bedbugs include:

  • bites, often on skin exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck, and arms

  • spots of blood on your bedding, from the bites or from squashing a bedbug

  • small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo).”

How do you treat bedbug bites?

Bedbug bites usually clear up on their own in a week or so but they can be uncomfortable.

Cool and damp cloths on the affected areas can relieve some of the discomfort and those who find themselves with an infestation should try not to scratch the bites to avoid them becoming infected.

If it becomes too uncomfortable, you can go to a local pharmacist, who can prescribe a mild steroid cream or antihistamines to help with swelling and discomfort.

How do you get rid of bedbugs?

Bedbugs are notoriously hard to get rid of because of their small size.

They can hide in tiny spots, being so small, and you may not notice others. They also lay eggs everywhere, making it hard to keep on top of once you have an infestation.

Some bedbugs are also resistant to some insecticides.

If you think you have bedbugs, you should contact your local council or pest control service to come in and do a professional service clean to get rid of them. They often will use treatments others are unable to get over the counter.

If you find you have an infestation, you should wash all affected clothing and bedding on a hot wash and tumble dry for at least 30 minutes.

Other ways of treating them include putting affected clothing and bedding in a plastic bag and freezing for three days, and keeping on top of cleaning and vacuuming regularly in the home to prevent them coming back.