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Bedbugs spread to hotels and hostels in Europe after Paris outbreak

French travellers blamed for outbreak of critter at Athens hotel

Matt Mathers
Thursday 19 October 2023 17:25 BST
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Related video: Dr Hilary advises on what to do with bedbugs

A bedbug infestation that forced part of a hotel in Athens to close has been blamed on French travellers carrying the critters across Europe.

Giorgos Hotzoglou, president of Greece’s food and tourism worker union, said that a hotel in the capital had to close a wing to disinfect it after an outbreak.

“Some of the guests, mainly from France, carried the insects and unfortunately they also got stuck in the hotel,” he told local media outlet Open TV.

“There is a big problem with mattresses in hotels,” he added, pointing out that it was expensive for small and medium-sized companies to replace bedding.

Mr Hotzoglou did not name the hotel affected by the outbreak but said it was in a seaside suburb.

A wave of panic was sparked in Paris and other French cities earlier this month when people started posting videos on social media of the blood-sucking insects on public transport and other places.

There has also been an increase in reports of bedbugs in Spain, with Madrid and Barcelona, as well as inland regions of Catalunya, Aragon, the Valencian Community and the Balearic Islands said to be among the worst-hit areas.

The Olive Press cited Anticimex figures saying reports of the insects increased by 71 per cent between January and September 2023 when compared with the previous period last year.

Half a dozen hostels have been forced to temporarily close in Caldas de Reis due to an outbreak of bedbugs spread by Christians undertaking the St James Way Pilgrimage in Spain, The Daily Telegraph reported.

There have also been reported sightings on the London Underground, with mayor Sadiq Khan saying Transport for London was “taking steps” to prevent the insects from spreading across the city.

Bedbugs feed on blood by biting people, creating wounds that can be itchy but rarely cause other health problems.

Over the years they have become increasingly resistant to insecticide and are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

Despite their name, bedbugs can also be found in cabinets, sofas, seats, skirting boards and other wooden fixtures.

Experts say that bedbugs have been making a comeback over the past 20-30 years - not just in France but across the world.

File photo: Bedbugs are resurgent around the world, experts say (REUTERS/Stephanie Lecocq)

Several factors including globalistion, trade, tourism and immigration have contributed to their resurgence.

Bedbug numbers also tend to be higher in late summer after months of people moving around more in July and August.

"Every late summer we see a big increase in bedbugs," Jean-Michel Berenger, an entomologist at Marseille’s main hospital and France’s leading expert on les punaises, told the BBC.

“That is because people have been moving about over July and August, and they bring them back in their luggage.

“And each year, the seasonal increase is bigger than the last one.”

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