France appeals for end to bedbugs ‘panic’

France appeals for end to bedbugs ‘panic’

PARIS (Agencies): French Health Minister Aurelien Rousseau has urged the public to remain calm amid an apparent infestation of bedbugs in Paris. Meanwhile, French lawmakers are preparing legislation to tackle the scourge.

“There is no reason for general panic, we are not being invaded by bedbugs,” Rousseau told France Inter radio on Tuesday.

“What concerns me is that people do not get cheated by firms that make them pay 2,000 or 3,000 euros ($2,100 or $3,100)” to exterminate bedbugs in their houses, he added, accusing the pest control industry of capitalizing on the panic.

Although bedbugs had largely vanished throughout Western Europe by the mid-20th Century, they have made a resurgence in Paris in recent years. With insects seen on the city’s trains and metros in recent weeks, city hall lodged a formal complaint with the French government last week, demanding it take action to end the infestation.

“This is truly a national emergency. It’s an endemic subject in all places that receive the public,” First Deputy Mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire said, arguing that it was particularly important to address the bedbug issue ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Transport Minister Clement Beaune announced last week that he would meet with public transport operators to address the bedbug problem.

The head of President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party in the French National Assembly, Sylvain Maillard, said on Tuesday that lawmakers would have a bill ready at the beginning of December to end the “scourge” of bedbugs.

Maillard said that his party would treat the issue as a “priority,” and called on left-wing and right-wing lawmakers to collaborate on the bill.

Bedbugs nest in soft furniture and clothing, coming at night to prey on sleeping humans and feast on their blood. Eliminating bedbugs can prove difficult, and requires extensive washing of clothes and bedding, vacuuming, and fumigation. One-tenth of French homes are believed to have had a bedbug infestation in recent years.