Bed bug that feeds on human skin.
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A new study this week concluded that bed bugs are such a problem in France that they are now a national health risk.
The creatures are on the rise around the world, but bed bugs have been proliferating over the past decade – they’re now found in every US state, and countries across Europe have seen major infestations, particularly Paris (the most visited capital in the world). .
In early 2020, the French Union for Pest Control declared: “Because of the bed bug problem in France, the number of cases has increased from 180,000 to 400,000 in just two years.”
The French government website states that they came to France with the advent of international travel in the 1950s and that they increased in numbers due to their increased resistance to insecticides. It is said that the bedrooms and living rooms are mostly more affected.
A New York Times article pointed out that one in five Americans has been afflicted with bed bugs or knows someone who has. Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, and Los Angeles were the most troubled.
Christian Cadieux (R), owner of Bed Bugs Bite, fumigates a mattress as part of her process … [+]
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Bed bugs are incredibly difficult to remove. They drive with suitcases and clothes. You can live for many months without drinking any human blood. To kill them, you need temperatures of minus four degrees Fahrenheit. They reproduce quickly and are immune to common insecticides. They’re not fussy about cleanliness or dirt – they’re a great leveler in that sense. You can lay two to five eggs each day and you only need one pregnant woman to start brood. They are also incredibly difficult to find.
According to a report by French doctors in the New England Journal of Medicine in June, the New York Times reads: “Between blood meals, bed bugs hide in dark places like cracks and crevices in the household, walls, luggage, bedding. Mattresses, bed springs, bed frames, spaces under baseboards, loose or peeling wallpaper, electrical circuit boards and lines for electrical cables. “
Bed bugs mostly eat at night, crawling from host to host and leaving bites, but it’s the psychological damage that can have the most impact. Bed bugs do not carry infectious diseases.
A bed bug in an apartment in Hong Kong on May 26, 2017.
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The study analyzed 72,000 consultations with doctors across France from April 2019 to March 2020 that reported bed bug problems – the equivalent of 110 out of 100,000 people in France. 98% of the reported cases had skin lesions (itchy bites), 37% said they had suffered from insomnia, and 37% said the presence of bed bugs had a negative impact on their professional, family, and social life.
According to the RFI, they increase in warmer weather, with the two most affected regions in France being the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and the coastal Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region on the Mediterranean. Very few cases have been reported in Paris, but with the data coming from general practitioners, it is unlikely to include tourists who would likely see their own doctors on their return, The Local points out.
France launched a prevention campaign in February that formed the basis of the campaign for one of the candidates for Paris mayor, where people can get advice on prevention and cure. There is a website (Stop-punaises.gouv.fr) and a hotline (0806 706 806).
It remains to be seen what impact Covid-19 and the slowdown in global travel will have on the bed bug population.
To check for bed bugs, check the seams of the mattress where they tend to congregate, then blow them up with a hair dryer as the warm air should encourage them to get outside.