Paris is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the planet. But while regularly known as the City of Lights, the French capital in recent weeks has become known as the city of bedbugs. According to reports in the media and on social media, the city is dealing with an infestation of the blood-suckers just nine months before the 2024 Summer Olympics kicks off there. Here’s what you need to know about the Paris bedbug outbreak.
- What’s happened? In recent weeks, people in the French capital have reported bedbug infestations around the city—from hotels to Airbnbs to the Paris Metro. The creepy crawlers are freaking people out and have saddled Paris officials with a major image problem just nine months before the Summer Olympics begin in the capital on July 26, 2024.
- What are bedbugs? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bedbugs are officially known as Cimex lectularius. They are reddish-brown in color and have flat bodies, which are relatively small. A bedbug can measure anywhere from just 1mm to 7mm. Bedbugs feed on only two food sources: animal blood or human blood.
- Are bedbugs dangerous? Not typically. The CDC says bedbugs do not carry diseases that can be transferred to humans. However, some people can get an allergic reaction to multiple bites, which needs medical attention. Bites from bedbugs can also cause itching, which could disrupt sleep.
- Where are bedbugs being reported in Paris? In many more places than just beds. As Reuters notes, people have reported bedbug infestations on the Paris Metro, on high-speed trains, in movie theaters, and at Charles de Gaulle airport. Those places are in addition to hotel rooms and Airbnbs.
- Why is there a bedbug outbreak in Paris? Bedbugs have been a growing problem in France for a while now. ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, says that between 2017 and 2022 more than 1 in 10 French households were infected with bedbugs. The CDC also states that bedbugs have “recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe.” The cause for the increased spread? “The upsurge in bed-bug infestations in recent years has been due in particular to the rise in travel and the increasing resistance of bed bugs to insecticides,” ANSES says.
- What have French officials said about the bedbug outbreak? Emmanuel Gregoire, deputy mayor of Paris, sent a letter to French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, stating, “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,” reports Reuters. Meanwhile, French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said he will hold a meeting this week to “undertake further action” to “reassure and protect” the public, reports CNN.
- What if I’ve recently traveled to Paris? Leaving the city doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily left the bedbugs behind. They can crawl into clothes and suitcases and survive for months without sucking blood. That’s why travelers often spread bedbugs. If you are worried you may have bedbugs in your clothes, one way to potentially kill them is by drying the clothes on high heat in a dryer, says Healthline.