Paris bed bug invasion, prevent bringing bed bugs home

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October 5, 2023

Photo: SCStock/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: SCStock/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Paris is currently battling an invasion of bed bugs, which is leaving travelers worried whether they will bring the pest home.

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.

According to The Washington Post, the recent outbreak has government officials’ attention, especially as the 2024 Olympics approach, when millions of visitors are expected to descend on Paris. As the deputy mayor recently warned that “no one is safe” from an infestation, bed bugs are sparking mass anxiety in Paris and for travelers.

On Wednesday, Clément Beaune, France’s transport minister, urged for calm amid widespread reports of bed bug infestations in the capital and other cities, as he said more could be done to tackle the scourge, according to CNBC.

“Along with transport operators, we will provide even more efficient solutions,” Beaune told reporters after holding an industry meeting, adding that discussions would be held with cleaning companies regarding innovations in the sector. “There is no [bed bug] resurgence, we must not fall into madness.”

“We do know that bed bug infestations can spread to new locations very quickly and, once they have, this pest is difficult to control,” Dr. Jim Fredericks, BCE, senior vice president of public affairs at the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), told CNBC. “Bed bugs are great ‘hitch hikers,’ allowing them to travel long distances with people … France has seen a significant increase in visitors as a result of Fashion Week in recent weeks, which provides an ideal scenario for bed bugs to be transported from one location to the next.”

Tips to tell clients to avoid bed bugs

According to CNBC, bed bug removal includes reducing home clutter, washing clothes at high temperatures, heat cleaning furniture and carefully checking clothes and beds for the telltale black bugs and their droppings. However, they spread rapidly and are notoriously difficult to get rid of, generally requiring professional treatment.

Dr. Michael Bentley, BCE, shared tips in his April column for Pest Management Professional (PMP) on how to avoid bringing (Cimex lectularius) and German cockroaches (Blattella germanica) home from traveling. He warned both species lurk in hotel rooms, on trains and at airports and that they all are effective hitchhikers that can easily find their way into luggage, backpacks, purses and clothing.

He gave pest management professionals (PMPs) these tips to tell clients prior to traveling:

  • Inspect bedding and furniture in every hotel or vacation rental for any signs of pest activity. If they find anything suspicious, they need to inform property management immediately.
  • Do not place luggage on beds or furniture until the unit has been inspected. Recommend they store luggage in a bathroom or outside of the unit until their inspection is complete.
  • Once home, store luggage in the garage or similar protected place outside of the home until the items can be inspected carefully. You can even go the extra mile to coordinate your regularly scheduled service to coincide with your client’s return home to assist with inspecting their luggage and other items if needed.

also wrote for PMP in 2017 about what PMPs should do when bed bugs return since they are attracted to areas with previous bed bug activity, and a new bed bug is likely going to find its way to old evidence:

A bed bug showing up a month or two post-elimination is most likely a reintroduction. Studies have shown that bed bugs are highly attracted to previous harborage. In fact, repellency studies have shown some products to have repellency in clean harborages, but not on harborages with previous activity.

In many cases, it is a bug brought home in the same manner that caused the original infestation. In multi-family dwellings, it may be bed bugs dispersing from a heavy infestation in an adjacent unit. (This only reinforces the necessity of inspecting adjacent units in conjunction with a treatment.)

Although preventing reintroductions cannot be guaranteed, helping people understand the common methods of reintroductions can go a long way in minimizing the chances. Depending on the circumstances, it can be difficult to explain this before pest management procedures begin. You may need to overcome language or societal barriers to educate tenants about preventing reintroduction.

Achieving the best results comes when these instructions are written as well as explained. The use of interceptors also can be a valuable tool for demonstrating elimination has occurred and for preventing a re-infestation.

Check out a recent Tik Tok about the Paris infestation:

@screenshothq Bed bugs have been seen crawling all over public spaces in Paris as France battles an ‘invasion’ of the insects. Paris’ transport minister, Clément Beaune, said he would convene public transport operators next week “to inform them about countermeasures and how to do more for the protection of travellers”. #paris #bedbugs #france #paris2024 #olympics #bedbugsparis #bedbugsuk #bedbuginfestation ♬ Suspense, horror, piano and music box – takaya

About the Author

Ellen Wagner

Ellen Wagner is the digital editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at ewagner@northcoastmedia.net.

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