Emmanuel Macron’s government has been urged to tackle the bed bug “scourge” ahead of the beginning of next year’s summer Olympics in Paris.
France’s capital city appears to be particularly affected by the pests, as the biting insects have been spotted in homes, as well as public spaces like trains and cinemas.
Emmanuel Gregoire, first deputy mayor of Paris, wrote a letter on behalf of City Hall calling on Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne to take effective measures bearing in mind the Olympic Games will kick off on July 26 next year.
He wrote: “Bed bugs are a public health problem and should be reported as such.
“The state must urgently bring together all concerned in order to enact an action plan appropriate with this scourge as all of France prepares to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.”
In a recent interview with French outlet FranceInfo, Mr Gregoire argued treatment against bed bugs should be included in home insurance deals to help those who find an infestation in their houses.
In another interview, this time with French TV station LCI, Mr Gregoire called the bed bug issue a “widespread” phenomenon, which goes beyond his city’s limits, given the millions of people who visit and commute to Paris every day.
The deputy mayor added in no uncertain terms: “You have to understand that in reality no one is safe, obviously there are risk factors but in reality, you can catch bed bugs anywhere and bring them home.”
While he demanded an intervention, Mr Gregoire also warned fellow residents against “hysteria” over the pests, noting professional pest control companies working in residential areas have informed the city hall of a rapid increase in requests for intervention.
While the Olympic and Paralympic Games should provide an “opportunity” to work together on the issue, the much-anticipated international competitions are not under any threat, the deputy mayor added, urging people to acknowledge that bed bugs have always existed and will continue to bother people after the event.
Following the Parisian official’s letter, the French government pledged to “reassure and protect” its citizens and visitors.
French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said in a social media post shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, he was planning to gather transport operators next week to “provide information on the actions undertaken and act in the interests of passengers” and “reassure and protect” people.
On its website, the French Ministry of Energy Transition pointed at an increase in international travel and resistance to insecticides as likely causes of the surge of bed bugs.
Inside homes, bed bugs can hide in several places including bed frames, mattresses, clothing and under loose wallpaper.
Infestations normally require the intervention of pest control services or local councils as it is difficult for individuals alone to find all the insects.