Paris Fashion Week is often where the A-listers wanted to be spotted – but this year there were some unexpected visitors at the popular event.
Bed bugs have reportedly been the talk of the town almost as much as the catwalk shows, reports The Telegraph. Meanwhile videos on social media show the bugs on the Paris Metro, trains and buses.
The pests have also been spotted in upscale restaurants, hotels and even the Charles-de-Gaulle Airport. And the chatter at Fashion Week was how to avoid the bugs.
Earlier this year reports suggested one in 10 French households could have the bugs. Their increase has been blamed on a boom in global travel.
With major events such as the Rugby World Cup and Fashion Week, Paris has seen thousands of international visitors in recent weeks. Meaning they could potentially take the pests home with them.
The French government has vowed to tackle to “scourge” of the bugs. They reportedly fear they could overshadow the 2024 Olympic Games.
Writing on X, the deputy mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Grégoire said “no one is immune” from the bugs. So, should we worry about them coming to the UK?
Another global fashion capital, New York, waged its own war on bed bugs after a particularly bad outbreak in 2010. The pests took over the Google offices and shut shops, with even Bloomingdale’s admitting it found “one bed bug” in its flagship store.
New York City officials fought back in style. A City Hall spokesman said: “To bed bugs in New York. Drop dead. Your days are over, they’re numbered, we’re not going to take it anymore.”
A Bed Bug Advisory Board was set up and a plan issued to teach building managers and pest controllers how to handle outbreaks. By 2014, the number of bed bug incidents had dropped by more than half.
The first step is to be bed bug aware. Educating the public was credited with reducing the population, particularly teaching people bed bugs can affect everyone – not just those in poorer areas.
James Logan, a professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the Telegraph: “Bed bugs are everywhere. You’ll find bed bugs in five-star hotels to backpacker’s [hostels]… I’ve been bitten by bed bugs in business class. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live.
“The key to dealing with the problem is to know the bed bugs are there as quickly as possible – the smaller the infestation, the easier it is to get rid of.”
While bed bugs are only the size of an apple seed, they can have a huge financial and emotional impact. Treating them often costs “hundreds, sometimes thousands”.
The cimex lectularius, the most common species of urban bed bug, travel on suitcases, clothing and public transport. They can even survive on household pets and rodents.
During the day they are usually hidden. The bugs often come out at night to feed on the “host” while they are asleep.
How to spot bed bugs?
The first sign of bed bugs is a bite, similar to that from a mosquito. These bites however are often in a line or a cluster.
Other telltale signs include a blood spots on your bedsheets or a characteristic musty smell.
Experts say the bugs breed incredibly quickly. And it just takes one pregnant female in your suitcase to produce hundreds of eggs, hatching within a matter of weeks.
While exterminators have often used toxic insecticides, it is thought the pests are becoming increasingly resistent to them. It means the best way to stop an infection is by preventing them in the first place.
Anyone who has been in a hotel room with bed bugs is told to unpack their bag outdoors. This is because the blood suckers cannot survive outside.
Another tip New York discovered was it is best leave the treatment to the experts. Bed Bug Doctor Hugh Barrie from Bournemouth told The Telegraph: “There’s nothing you can buy online and no magic cure” to get rid of them yourself. The chemicals you need can only be applied by a pest controller.”
Bed bugs walk up to 30 metres in a day and travel between rooms in a flat or apartment block. They can survive for up to a year without food.