Is London prepared for the bedbug invasion that has swarmed Paris?

Lovers beware. Paris has been engulfed by an infestation of bedbugs with authorities warning “no one is safe”.

Footage of the blood-sucking insects has horrifed TikTok users, leading to some standing on the infested Parisian metro instead of sitting on the fabric seats, or posting warning about the creepy critters swarming all over their Airbnb rentals.

Speaking to French TV station LCI on Friday, deputy mayor of Paris Emmanuel Gregoire called the infestation “widespread.”

Typical bedbugs bite (NHS)
Typical bedbugs bite (NHS)

“You have to understand that in reality no one is safe, obviously there are risk factors but in reality, you can catch bedbugs anywhere and bring them home,” he said.

But should Londoners be concerned with a comfortable journey on the fabric seats of the Eurostar just two hours away?

Yes is the short answer. With a typical lifespan of 4-6 months and a penchant for hitching rides in dirty suitcases, it is very possible they can make the 2hr 16min trip from the City of Love to the Big Smoke.

One bedbug expert from Bed Bugs Ltd, based in London, says the creatures are already here but could even increase in numbers with the Paris epidemic.

The Independent asked David Cain, founder and MD of Bed Bugs LTD and a qualified microbiologist, whether the bugs could survive the journey.

France wary over bedbugs spread (REUTERS)
France wary over bedbugs spread (REUTERS)

He said: “Easily, yes, without a shadow of a doubt. I have known people go on day trips to Paris, not even staying in hotels or other high-risk activities, and come back with them. Paris has been a popular link for the last six years.

“Business is already booming. I started doing this in 2005, when bedbugs were rare and obscure, but [they are] not any more.

“If everyone had listened to me in 2006 and started a public education campaign, this wouldn’t be happening.

“They don’t know... and check when you travel that you don’t get them. Check your home.

More bedbugs (Supplied)
More bedbugs (Supplied)

“You won’t be the first person in your office who has had them. There’s so much psychological [aversion] ingrained in the national psyche. Some people who seem to have it all together simply turn into a gibbering wreck.

“So much of our website is dedicated to psychology and emotional support. People are scared by what they don’t understand, but we understand what you are going through.”

He added: “There is no medication that will prevent bedbugs. They tried to recommend ivermectin, the one Trump thought could stop him from getting Covid then got it a couple of days later. It’s a nasty drug.”

His best advice: “Baking soda and an ice cube – make a paste, apply it to the skin for 30 seconds.”

One Reddit user helpfully suggested: “ALWAYS use a luggage stand when travelling, and if you want to be extra safe bag up your clothes before you get home and then run everything through a wash cycle with a hot dryer cycle.

“Use a suitcase with very few nooks and crannies if possible too, so it can easily be vacuumed/wiped down.”

NHS signs of bedbugs include:

  • Spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug

  • Small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo)

  • On white skin, bedbug bites usually look red. On black or brown skin, they may look purple and may be harder to see.

Technically, bedbugs are mutants.

Scientists have found that the bedbug possesses genes from other organisms, which makes the creatures – which have been around since the age of the dinosaurs – even harder to kill.

There are 400 types of bacteria that can be found in and on bedbugs, which appear to help keep them alive by fending off viruses, pesticides, and other harmful substances.

Eurostar have insisted their trains are cleaned thoroughly (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)
Eurostar have insisted their trains are cleaned thoroughly (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Archive)

Eurostar said they were planning on ramping up “preventative treatments” across their entire network to keep the critters on the other side of the Channel.

A spokesperson told The Independent: “The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our number one priority, and the presence of insects such as bedbugs on our trains is extremely rare.

”The textile surfaces on all of our trains are cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis, and this involves hot-water injection and extraction cleaning, which has proven highly effective in eliminating bugs.

“Any reports on hygiene matters are taken very seriously, and our cleaning teams, in addition to the usual cleaning, will also disinfect a train on request or as soon as there is the slightest doubt.”

Earlier this year, pest control company Rentokil highlighted a 65 per cent increase year-on-year in infestations across the country, as experts suggested this could be due to more people buying second-hand furniture from resale websites such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace.