Are Bed Bugs The Next Pandemic? 

Bed bugs have been in the news recently, as the city of Paris has suffered a widespread outbreak of the pests. Due to the Paris Fashion Week that had recently ended, and the upcoming 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, many people have begun worrying that Paris’ bed bug problem could become a global concern. Bed bugs can spread easily and are very hard to kill, only ratcheting up the fears. While bed bugs are a very upsetting nuisance pest that can leave you with painful bites, they do not spread any diseases, and with proper inspections and control methods from a licensed pest control company, you can protect your home from bed bugs. 

Bed Bugs in Paris 

The fear that bed bugs could become a global pandemic arises from the recent infestation in Paris, France. Bed bugs have become a ubiquitous problem in the city, infesting hotels, movie theaters, the Charles de Gaulle airport, and even public transportation systems like buses and the Metro. Emmanuel Gregoire, the current Deputy Mayor of Paris called for a state-level response from the French government against the “scourge” of bedbugs. While Gregoire cautioned against hysteria, he also referred to the spread of bed bugs as “widespread”, cautioning that “no one is safe”, and anyone can catch the bugs and bring them home. 

Several videos have gone viral recently of bed bugs on public transportation in Paris, stirring up anxiety and worries about a city-wide infestation. Despite this, RAPT, Paris’ metro operator has assured citizens they are staying “extremely vigilant” for bed bugs, responding to any confirmed sighting with treatments. 

Paris recently held their semiannual Paris Fashion Week, attracting many rich and famous celebrities and tourists to the city, which only increased fear of bed bugs hitching a ride on these people back to their home countries. However, the greatest challenge France will face is keeping the bed bug problem under control during the upcoming Summer 2024 Olympics.

Bed Bugs and the 2024 Olympics

The 2024 Summer Olympics are scheduled to take place from July 26,2024 to August 11th, 2024 in the city of Paris, France. The Olympics are known to bring in travel and commerce from the entire world. While this is great for the economy of the city the games are being held in, this also greatly increases the chances for a disease or pest to spread across the world, hitching a ride with tourists and travelers. Bed bugs are known to easily travel, hiding on clothing and inside suitcases to travel long distances. Bed bugs can also survive for up to a year without a blood meal, which can increase their chances at surviving long trips. Bed bug populations swell during the summer months as well, with all of these factors increasing the likelihood of tourists picking up bed bugs at the Olympics and bringing them back to their homes across the world, which could lead to a pandemic of bed bug infestations. While this may sound scary, don’t panic. Bed bugs have been around forever, and we have more than enough preventative treatments and control treatments to keep your home safe from a bed bug infestation. 

Bed Bugs 101 

Bed bugs are tiny, reddish, flat insects that are infamous for feeding on human blood and nesting within fabric, especially in the folds of mattresses, which is where they get their name from. They are able to hitch rides on clothing and fabric, and can travel long distances, so a bed bug problem in a hotel room you are staying at can quickly become a bed bug problem in your home. Contrary to some belief, a lack of hygiene does not lead to a worse bed bug problem. Bed bugs are only attracted to a source of blood to feed on, so regular cleaning will do little to ward them off. With all the bed bugs in the news today, you might be wondering about the basics. How do I identify them, do they bite people and pets, and how do I check for them? 

How To Identify Bed Bugs 

Bed bugs are an extremely tiny, reddish-brown, wingless parasitic insect. They are typically 1mm to 7mm, which, to put into perspective, is about as big as Lincoln’s head on a penny. Bed bugs have a similar cousin, the Bat bug that feeds on bat species. You can tell them apart as bed bugs will have a larger abdomen and more hairs on their shell. 

Do Bed Bugs Bite People and/or Pets? 

Bed bugs are parasites that prefer to feed on people. They do not like a lot of movement as it can be difficult to grasp on, so they will feed on human blood while the host is asleep. They will only feed for about 5-10 minutes, and then they will go dormant for up to 7-10 days. During this time, they will digest blood and the females will lay eggs, 1-5 per day and over 500 per lifespan. 

Bed bugs prefer human blood, but they will feed on pets, including cats, dogs and even birds. However, bed bugs will not live on your pet or in their fur, unlike ticks and fleas. Your pets will also not bring in bed bugs from outside, as bed bugs are mostly unable to survive outside. 

How To Check For Bed Bugs 

The key to checking for bed bugs is to know where to look. Bed bugs are able to adapt to their food source’s schedule and location, as they are attracted by the carbon dioxide you emit through breathing. If you are sleeping on the couch during the day, then look for concentrated pockets of bed bugs in the folds and corners of that couch. Check inside seams of mattresses, box springs, in electrical outlets, bed frames, in luggage, dresser tables, in bedding, inside cracks or crevices, underneath carpet, behind wallpaper, in boxes, or in any other clutter near an area you are sleeping in. 

The most common way to identify bed bugs is to see their bite marks, which may be red, itchy or swollen. However it can take several days for these bite marks to appear on your body. Some other signs of bed bugs include their exoskeletons after molting, rust-colored blood spots from their blood-filled fecal matter, and a sweet, musty odor. 

How Can I Get Rid of Bed Bugs? 

Bed bugs might seem frightening, but don’t worry, human beings have been dealing with them since the beginning of time, and we have more than enough bed bug solutions. While bed bugs have become resistant to some forms of pesticides, they are not resistant to ALL forms of pesticides, despite widespread rumors. However, using excessive pesticides is not the answer to fixing your bed bug problem. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a newer method of pest control that focuses on remedying the root cause of pest issues and not just blindly killing all pests in your path, which could prove to be a short-term solution. Contacting a licensed pest management company like Summit Environmental Solutions is your best bet in eliminating a bed bug problem. Professionals have access to more effective pesticides and heat treatments, and can give your home a thorough inspection to help you mitigate the risk of further infestations.  

How Can I Protect Against Bed Bugs? 

Bed bugs are most often picked up through travel. The best way to protect against bed bugs is to heavily inspect beds you are sleeping in while you travel, and to remove all clothes and other fabric you traveled with, and wash them on hot in your washing machine. Heavily inspect your suitcase and anything else you brought with you before entering your house to make sure they are free of bed bugs. Bed bugs will look for tiny hiding places like cracks in the wall, so sealing these cracks with caulk can help protect against bed bugs. 

While Paris has a serious bed bug problem, don’t worry about bed bugs becoming a global pandemic after the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. These parasitic insects can be taken care of and prevented by careful inspections and treatments from a licensed pest management company like Summit Environmental Solutions.

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