Paris's mattresses are being invaded by bedbugs and locals are placing the blame squarely on tourists — American tourists, to be exact. Local news reports claim that Paris is in the throes of an "explosive phenomenon" of bedbugs attacking the city's residents and their homes.
The recent explosion of the nasty bugs appears to have started around two to three years ago, Le Parisien reports. A property management group in the French capital, RIVP, claims that nearly every day a resident is forced to throw out their infested mattresses.
"It's been like this for two or three years," RIVP manager Oliver Perret told Le Parisien. "And we think they're coming from North America."
RIVP group said that 20% of the 1,000 properties it oversees have dealt with bedbug infestations. The group told reporters that it had been deep-freezing infested furniture at -25C in order to get rid of them. RIVP claims the technique appears to be working.
A hotel manager on the Left Bank echoed Perret's claim, saying the critters are "brought every time by American tourists". Le Parisien added that DisneyLand Paris has also been affected by a bedbug infestation and noted that the world-renowned attraction is very popular among American tourists.
Americans also received blame from BFM TV, which reported that bedbugs were "present in huge numbers" across the pond. The Local noted, however, that it is impossible to prove from where the bedbugs originated and with whom they travelled.
Hope the bugs don't bite
Nathalie, a legal counsel living in northern Paris, told The Local about her recent experience with the bugs. "In the middle of the night, while I was being bit, I woke up realising what was happening. After checking my back covered with bites I turned my pillow upside down and I discovered one walking on it," she said.
Paris is not the only place in France to be affected by the pests. According to The Local, pest controllers in January revealed that there were 180,000 bed bug infestations throughout France in 2016. The CS3D union said the bugs were found in hotels, hostels and hospitals, as well as retirement homes, on backpackers and on public transport.
Bedbugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood and are mostly active in the dark of night. Experts warn the bugs should be taken seriously, even if they are not life-threatening to humans. "I think we're dealing with a major public health issue," Jean-Michel Bérenger, an entomologist at La Timone hospital in Marseille, said to Le Figaro.
"Declaring the number of infected sites should be a mandatory practice to improve care."