The French government will convene emergency meetings this week to investigate the increasing number of bed bug cases in the country.
Many bed bugs have been spotted in the past few weeks (in the midst of the Rugby World Cup) on high-speed trains, the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, the Paris metro and even in cinemas.
Two schools – one in Marseille and the other in Villefranche-sur-Saone outside Lyon in the south-east of France – have been infected with bed bugs and have been closed for several days to be disinfected.
Clement Beaune, the French transport minister, was expected to call a meeting on Wednesday to “quantify the situation and strengthen the measures”.
An inter-ministerial meeting will then follow on Friday to “quickly provide answers for the French”, government spokesman Olivier Veran told RTL TV.
Sylvain Maillard, head of pres. Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party in the French National Assembly says a bill will be presented “at the beginning of December” to combat the “plague” of bed bugs.
However, Aurelien Rousseau, the French Minister of Health, said on French radio that there was no reason to panic. “What worries me is that people are being cheated by firms that make them pay 2,000 or 3,000 euros to clean their homes of bedbugs.”
Renaissance MP Bruno Studer said a future priority would be to count the number of bed bugs. “We don’t know today if there are more bed bugs than in 2019.”
Bedbugs, which had largely disappeared from daily life by the 1950s, have experienced a near resurgence in recent decades, largely due to high population densities and increased mass transit.
A tenth of all French households have apparently had a bed bug problem in the past few years.
Bed bugs get their name from their habit of nesting in mattresses, although they can also hide in clothing and in luggage.
Bed bug bites leave red areas of skin, blisters or skin rashes and can cause intense itching or allergic reactions. The insects also often cause psychological distress, sleep problems, anxiety and depression.