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France sees a jump in bedbugs, as Paris prepares to host the Olympics next year

A photo shows a general view of the Ecole Militaire and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on Sept. 26.
Joel Saget
/
AFP via Getty Images
A photo shows a general view of the Ecole Militaire and the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on Sept. 26.

France is on edge over the resurgence of blood-sucking bedbugs across the country, as concerns mount over whether the creepy-crawlers could impact the Olympics in Paris next year.

"No one is safe," Emmanuel Grégoire, the first deputy mayor of Paris, said in a tweet on Friday.

People have spotted the critters in recent days on France's high-speed trains, in the Paris metro and in the city's Charles-de-Gaulle Airport — in some cases posting videos of the bugs on social media — France24 reported.

Earlier this year, the French government agency ANSES said in a report that 11% of French households had bedbugs between 2017 and 2022, and the infestations weren't correlated to wealth.

A jump in travel and bedbugs' growing resistance to insecticides are among the primary reasons driving a spike in infestations, the agency noted.

Grégoire announced that he had asked Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne to organize a conference on the battle against bedbugs, calling it a public health issue. He also sent a letter to Borne calling for an "action plan" to deal with the insects, Reuters reported.

Grégoire said it's the responsibility of owners and insurers to eradicate the invasive species, and that in Paris the costs are typically covered for poorer households.

French transportation minister Clément Beaune also joined the bedbug banter, saying in a tweet that he would bring transportation operators together this week to provide information on efforts to help travelers. The goal was to "reassure and protect," he said.

The bedbug dread comes as Paris prepares to host the summer Olympics in July and August of 2024.

But Grégoire said, according to CNN, that the insects pose "no threat to the Olympic Games" and instead provide a chance for people to work together to combat them.

Bedbugs are small, six-legged insects that frequently hide in furniture and bite humans to feed on their blood.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joe Hernandez