Bed bugs: Will the Paris infestation be coming to Switzerland?
Over the past few weeks, tourists in Paris have expressed their alarm at the bed bug problem currently gripping the city. Now, given how interconnected the country is with France, several experts have assessed how likely a bed bug infestation is in Switzerland and suggested some rather weird and wonderful ways to make sure the pest doesn’t find itself between Swiss bedsheets.
Bed bugs in Paris spark international headlines
It can be argued that no little critter has caused such a stir in so short a time: bed bugs are infesting the city of Paris. Despite already being a problem in the region since 2020, the recent arrival of tourists for several high-profile events - such as Paris Fashion Week and the Rugby Union World Cup - has thrown the issue into sharp relief and given the bugs international attention.
In fact, because of the sheer number of international tourists in the city, many fear that the bed bugs will now spread across the world. Already, Air-Journal reported bed bugs in Terminal Four at Paris Orly Airport - where flights to Geneva depart from - a waiting area at Paris Charles de Gaulle and at Roissy Airport.
Alongside airports, there is a concern that the bed bugs might travel on TGV and other public transport services, including those that go from Paris to Geneva, Lausanne, Basel and Zurich. Already, unconfirmed reports have surfaced from London, claiming that Parisian bed bugs have already made a home on the Underground.
What's all the fuss about bed bugs?
So what’s all this fuss about? While they are not known to carry disease, bed bugs are bloodsuckers and tend to bite humans, disturbing sleep and leaving an itchy and reddish bite or rash on their victims that can last up to two weeks. In some cases, people can be allergic to bed bug bites, causing hives and other adverse reactions.
As their name suggests, bed bugs make their homes in the nooks and crannies around bedspreads and other furniture. They are most commonly found in places frequented by many humans in a short period of time, namely hotels, hospitals and other accommodation.
They are infamously difficult to clear out once they find a home, with chemicals usually used to fumigate the bed bugs out - although the French Health and Safety body ANSES noted that the “upsurge in bed-bug infestations in recent years has been due in particular to the rise in travel and the increasing resistance of bed bugs to insecticides.”
Will we see a bed bug infestation in Switzerland?
So what are the chances that the bed bugs will arrive in Switzerland in huge numbers? Speaking to 20 Minuten, Jürg Ryffel from the Zurich pest control company Insektol said that bed bugs remain a persistent problem in the alpine nation, adding that he has received complaints about the pest “every day for years.”
Jean-Martin Fierz, from the company Desinfecta, told the newspaper that while they will remain an issue “I don’t think that the plague in France will spill over into Switzerland.” He added that it was unlikely that we will see infestations on Swiss public transport any time soon.
Pest control experts warn Swiss tourists about bed bugs
However, both experts did advise people to remain vigilant, especially if they are returning from holidays or business trips in France. Already, 20 Minuten has reported the case of a lady from Fribourg, who had to have her apartment fumigated after she accidentally brought some bed bugs home from her holiday in Mulhouse.
Bed bugs are also an expensive problem to have in Switzerland, with Fierz estimating that it costs between 1.000 and 3.000 francs to get rid of them completely.
What can we do to stop bed bugs in Switzerland?
Therefore, to stop bed bugs from arriving in Switzerland, the two experts had some rather avant-garde suggestions. First, both said that suitcases should not be left on or near the bed in hotel rooms in regions that are known to have a bed bug problem.
Then, Ryffel suggested that “when you get home, you should freeze the entire suitcase for one day at minus 30 degrees celsius (or for five days at minus 18 degrees).” The experts told 20 Minuten that travellers should also never unpack their suitcases in the bedroom and use the basement instead.
They added that all clothes unpacked, whether worn or not, should also be either washed at 60 degrees or frozen after arrival with the bag. While this may sound strange, both experts argued that the process is much cheaper and less hassle than having to call the exterminator.