Paris is battling an invasion of bed bugs 10 months before the opening of the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.
The pests were first reported in hotels and vacation rental apartments across the city during the summer. Then there were sightings in movie theaters and, in recent days, there have even been reports of bed bugs crawling around on seats in both national high-speed trains and the Paris Metro system.
Train passengers have shared videos of the insects on social media, prompting many travelers to pay extra attention before they sit down or drop fabric bags or coats on the floor at their feet. One person told followers that passengers were “panicking” when they realized there were bed bugs in the train carriage, and they couldn’t get off until the next station, according to CBS News.
Some even jumped ship to Morocco. Port authorities in Tangiers found bed bugs on a passenger ferry that arrived from Marseille in southern France on Oct. 2 after the alert was raised during the Mediterranean crossing. It was the first time Moroccan officials had noted bed bugs from France on the move and, upon arrival in Tangiers, passengers had to wait while the ship and its cargo were cleaned and disinfected before they were permitted to disembark.
Moroccan media outlets reported that Tangiers port and health authorities had put in place additional monitoring protocols after the ferry arrived to detect and prevent the spread of bed bugs from any further vessels arriving from France.
Paris companies specializing in treating insect infestations say they’ve been overwhelmed in recent weeks, according to CBS. The cost to treat bed bugs homes in Paris is about $500.
Paris City Hall is particularly worried about the potential risk for visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the summer.
“Bed bugs are a public health issue and should be declared as such,” Deputy Mayor of Paris Emmanuel Grégoire wrote to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, according to CBS News. He called on the government to put together an action plan to address the problem at a national level.
Transport Minister Clément Beaune has already announced a meeting this week with various public transport operators, with a view to “reassuring and protecting” travelers.
On Oct. 3, French President Emmanuel Macron said the government would put forward a bill to combat the surging numbers of reported bed bug cases, which are being increasingly seen as a major potential public health problem.
According to Barron’s, the head of Macron’s Renaissance party in the French National Assembly, Sylvain Maillard, said a cross-party text would be ready “at the beginning of December” to combat the “scourge” of bed bugs.
Maillard said the president’s party and its allies had decided to make the subject a “priority” and urged the right-wing and hard-left opposition to come up with suggestions for a cross-party text.