Algeria begins anti-bedbug campaign after surge of cases in France

Paris bedbug panic spreads to Africa: Algeria disinfects planes, trains and automobiles in bid to stop invasion after surge of cases in France

  • France is currently experiencing a surge in the number of reports of bedbugs 
  • READ MORE: How to get rid of bed bugs: Expert tips as Paris outbreak leaves London at risk of infestation 

Algeria has announced ‘preventative measures’ to contain the spread of bedbugs following a surge of reported sightings in France, home to a large Algerian diaspora.

The Algerian health ministry said in a statement Thursday new measures would be rolled out to prevent infestation, including ‘inspecting and disinfecting planes, ships and land transportation… and the strengthening of epidemiological monitoring’.

The country will also focus on the ‘cleaning and sanitising of airports, seaports, and land entries, inspection and sanitising baggage and merchandise liable to contain harmful insects’ amid fears the French surge may soon reach beyond the continent.

Panic is growing that with Paris set to host the Olympic Games in nine months, the surge in visitors could see a spike in the bloodsucking bugs in the French capital. 

Video footage from France showing bedbugs on trains and in cinemas has spread widely on social media.

France is experiencing a significant surge in cases of bedbugs (pictured on a mattress)

Different products used to eradicate bedbugs at the Hygiene Premium, pest control shop in Paris, on October 3, 2023

Dozens of flights from French airports land in Algeria daily, while the two countries are also connected by ferry.

Fear of the bugs has caused panic in France, with the government under pressure from all sides as the Olympics loom.

READ MORE: Do you have bed bugs? Expert reveals the tell-tale signs to look out for amid fears Paris outbreak could make its way to UK 

One opposition MP even brandished a vial of bedbugs in the National Assembly this week while demanding action.

In the face of this growing anxiety, the government has scheduled an inter-ministerial meeting for Friday to discuss the problem.

Government spokesman Olivier Veran said ministers were keen to ‘respond to the legitimate anxieties of the French’ public.

A French television presenter also caused fury this week after suggesting immigrants were responsible for France’s recent bedbug problem.

Pascal Praud, a presenter on the right-wing CNews channel, suggested there may be a link between the bedbugs and the arrival of immigrants to the country who ‘do not have the same hygiene conditions’ as those ‘on French soil’. 

Praud, 59, and his comments were swiftly condemned by Emmanuel Macron’s government. 

France’s minister for the fight against discriminations, Bérangère Couillard, said Praud’s comments were ‘shocking’. 

‘I will never accept hate speech in the media,’ Couillard added.

The presenter denied he was racist and said he was being ‘insulted, harassed and defamed’ by those who questioned him online.

Bedbugs had largely disappeared from daily life in developed countries by the 1950s, but they rebounded in the past 30 years.

That is thanks to their growing resistance to insecticides, an increase in public travel and a rising proclivity for second-hand goods.

Figures released in July by the French health authorities show more than one in 10 households in the country have been affected by bedbugs in the past five years.

One bedbug expert has warned that Britain may already be infested with a plague of the insects.

David Cain, founder of extermination firm Bed Bugs Ltd, told Sky News there could already be a ‘similar level’ of issue in London as there is in Paris currently.

Mr Cain estimated that around 5 per cent of households in London have had a bed bug infestation the last two years. 

It comes as data released by pest-control company Rentokil in September showed that from 2022 to 2023, the UK saw a 65 per cent increase in bed bug infestations.

Eurostar has already been placed on alert to step up ‘preventative treatment’ across the network to stop the spread of the bugs.

An anti-pest business exhibits a front page of the local newspaper Le Parisien dedicated to the bedbugs issue in Paris, France, 4 October 2023

Rob Smith, emeritus professor with a speciality in entomology at the University of Huddersfield, warned that cases could take off in the UK. 

He told MailOnline: ‘Reports of bedbugs have been increasing for many years, both in the UK and many other countries, probably in the main because of their developing resistance to insecticides.’ 

Two classes of insecticides are commonly used to thwart infestations — pyrethroids and neonicotinoids — but pest companies warn the bugs are building up a tolerance to them. 

Bugs with genetic mutations that enable them to survive exposure to these chemicals can reproduce and pass the mutation on to its offspring. As these bugs continue to breed, an army of insects resistant to current chemicals is left behind, experts say. 

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