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Give Me a Crash Course in . . . Parisian bed bugs

These bloodsucking insects are causing paranoia for fans during the Rugby World Cup

So, what’s all this about bed bugs?

Sightings of bed bugs in France have caused paranoia among travellers, as videos have been shared online that appear to show insects crawling over seats on the Paris Metro and a high-speed train. Public transport operator RATP, which runs the capital’s subway, trams and buses, has said investigations have taken place but “no cases of bed bugs have been confirmed to date”.

The country’s transport minister, however, is set to hold emergency talks with operators to discuss how to tackle the growing issue.

Although it’s unclear whether infestations are up significantly, it has become a worrying issue for those travelling to the country to watch the Rugby World Cup.

What exactly are bed bugs, then?

Cimex lectuarius, as they are officially known, are small bloodsucking parasitic insects that emerge at night from mattresses and crevices in beds to feed on your blood. Pleasant.


Unlike mosquitoes, however, they do not carry or transmit diseases.

Adult bed bugs look a bit like lentils and are visible to the naked eye. They are oval-shaped, flat and reddish-brown, and may grow to about 5mm in length. As they grow, they shed their skin, which looks like mottled brown shells on your mattress.

What happens if they bite you?

Many people won’t react to bed bug bites (and not because they sleep tight), but some will develop itchy, red bumps between one and nine days after being bitten.

How can I treat these bites?

A combination of a mild steroid cream and non-sedating antihistamine tablets should help your skin to clear in about a week.

So, if I don’t sit down on the Metro, I’ll be fine?

Not necessarily. Bed bugs can be transported in luggage, furniture and bedding. They can also spread quickly by crawling through holes in walls or pipes. Apartment blocks and hotels can quickly be infested by these creatures as they move easily from room to room.

What do I do if my clothing or bed linen has become infested?

Wash them at 60 degrees and place in a dryer on a hot setting to kill them off. For larger infestations, they are best cleared by a commercial pest control firm, which can treat the area on two separate occasions with a chemical insecticide.

Will it affect the Irish rugby team’s performance this Saturday against Scotland?

No, it shouldn’t. But if you notice the whole Stade de France scratching in unison, that may be why – although you probably have the itch now just from reading this!