Will bed bugs travel from Paris to the UK? They're already here, experts say | UK News

Paris is suffering from a bed bug infestation, but experts say the problem is likely to be just as bad in London.

“I think London probably has the same level of problem as Paris right now,” microbiologist and Bed Bug founder David Kane told Sky News.

“They are already on buses, trains, subways, movie theaters, doctors’ operating rooms, public spaces and hospitals.”

The difference, he said, is that Parisians are talking about the issue, while the British are “trying to keep everything quiet.”

A culture of silence, where people don't realize there's a problem and don't know how to deal with it, creates the perfect environment for bed bugs to spread, he said.

So what is happening in Paris and the UK? How can I avoid picking up bed bugs, and what should I do if I encounter one?

Here's everything you need to know…

What's happening in Paris?

Bed bugs are not a new problem in the French capital, but It seems to have gotten worse recently..

According to reports, they have been seen at homes, movie theaters, hospitals and trains.

Paris' deputy mayor, Emmanuel Grégoire, described them as a “disaster” and a “public health problem” and called on the prime minister to take action.

The city has been at war with the creatures for years. In 2020, the government launched a campaign to address this issue. Establishment of emergency helpline Where you can get expert advice.

More than one in 10 French households had a bed bug infestation between 2017 and 2022, according to a report by France's health and safety agency ANSES.

France is grappling with how to control the problem ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics

How serious is the bed bug problem in the UK?

Bed bug infestations in the UK increased by 65% ​​from 2022 to 2023, according to data published in September by pest control company Rentokil.

Natalie Bungay from the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) said she was not surprised by the findings.

“Bed bug activity reports tend to increase in the summer as people travel more.

“During the Covid-19 lockdown there was little travel, so there were very few bed bug problems, so it's no wonder we're seeing a surge in calls now.”

Mr Kane estimates that 5% of London households have had a bed bug infestation in the past two years.

He said it's not as easy for people to travel and bring home bugs, as people who haven't vacationed in years are finding bugs in their homes.

People without cars are also facing this problem, he said, showing that cars are becoming part of the public transport network.

The recent increase is part of a decades-long trend. Bed bugs were common before World War II, but the discovery of DDT as an inexpensive and effective insecticide helped control bed bugs.

But insects developed resistance to DDT, and then to the next wave of pesticides.

Is it possible for bed bugs to migrate from Paris to the UK?

Bed bugs are known to board vehicles when people stay in infested hotels, and can survive on flights and Eurostar journeys back to the UK.

Eurostar announces it is on alert And we are ready to strengthen “preventive care” across our network.

A spokesperson told Sky News that finding insects such as bed bugs on trains is “extremely rare”.

“The textile surfaces of all our trains are thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis, which includes hot water injection and extraction cleaning, which has proven to be highly effective in removing insects. ”

It added that trains will be disinfected “upon request or immediately if there is any suspicion” in the event of a report of a sanitary issue.

To truly tackle the problem, Cain said, the frequency of treatments needs to become “one trip, one clean.”

“Otherwise, you could end up taking the same train back and forth, and each time a new customer gets on board, they could inherit the problems left by the previous customer.”

But he reiterated the message that the UK's infestation is not just caused by bedbugs crossing the Channel, because “they are already here”.

There are concerns that bed bugs are making their way onto public transport.

What should I do to prevent an intrusion?

By regularly checking your mattress, cleaning your bed frame, and vacuuming the area, you can spot and deal with bed bugs quickly.

Cain also advised installing a bed bug monitoring device on your mattress that will show if a bed bug has crossed its path.

Cain says, “If you don't get into the discipline of checking once a month, the day will come when you tilt your mattress and there are probably 5,000 or 6,000 bed bugs staring back at you.”

“Once they have been on your property for about 60 days or more, the population will double every 14 days.”

What should I do if I find bed bugs?

The most important thing is not to panic, Cain said. This is because the more anxious you are, the more likely you are to make a mistake.

He listed three common mistakes to avoid: not using aerosol-based insecticides, not using bed bug sprays, and not throwing away furniture because bugs can get into new furniture.

If you catch the problem early, you may be able to eradicate it by washing bedding and clothing in a hot water washer and vacuuming the affected room.

But there's no point in just eliminating 90% of the bugs, as DIY solutions require a significant investment of time to research and run properly, and are still prevalent, he said. Ta.

The NHS advises calling your pest control company or local authority. If you are renting, it is the responsibility of the landlord, local authority or housing association to deal with the break-in if there is a break-in prior to the tenancy.

How do you find bed bugs?

Bed bugs tend to hide in bed frames, mattresses, clothing, and furniture, and come out primarily at night to feed on sleeping humans.

The first sign of bed bugs may be bites. The stings can be itchy and often come in rows.

Bed bugs are not known to carry disease, but their bites can be unpleasant, and the emotional toll of an infestation can be devastating.

Not everyone reacts to stings, so you could be sharing your bed with bugs without realizing it.

Other obvious signs include blood spots on the bedding from bites or crushed bed bugs that have recently fed, or brown spots on the bedding or furniture from bed bug feces.

To confirm bed bugs, you need to observe the bed bugs and their shedding, or examine fecal spots.

Adult bed bugs are about 5mm long and look a little like the seeds of an apple. The eggs are about 1 mm long, pearly white, and may be found singly or in groups.

Bed bugs on a wooden bed frame.Photo: Bed Bug Co., Ltd.

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How can I avoid bed bugs while traveling?

If you're staying in a hotel or apartment, check your bed for bugs, including the seams of your mattress and cracks in your headboard.

Don't put your suitcase under your bed and keep it zipped up as much as possible. Take out your clothes immediately after wearing them and do not leave them on the floor.

If possible, place your suitcase in an elevated position on a hard surface. When packing for a trip, put your clothes in resealable plastic bags and use a hard case if you have one.

How can I relieve the itching from a sting?

The NHS recommends applying cold objects to the infected area, avoiding scratching to avoid infection, and keeping the area clean.

If the sting is very itchy or painful, your pharmacist may be able to recommend steroid creams or antihistamines.

Will France's bed bug problem be solved by next summer's Olympics?

France is holding a crisis meeting on bed bugs in the first week of October, less than 10 months until the opening of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

On October 3, the French government announced that it will introduce a bipartisan bill in December to combat the “scourge” of bed bugs.

Sylvain Meillard, leader of President Emmanuel Macron's Renaissance party in the French National Assembly, said the president's party and its allies had decided to make the issue a “priority,” Le Monde newspaper reported.

But the window for authorities to get the problem under control is “incredibly narrow,” Cain said.

The solution may lie in “getting ahead of the outbreak” by installing monitors and ensuring a rigorous testing program is implemented throughout the city's accommodation, transport network and Olympic Village.

“To be honest, I don't think there's enough time in Paris right now,” he said.

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