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Bed bug infestation storms Paris Fashion Week

Amy Pulster

Paris Fashion Week had a few unexpected guests. Bed bugs swept the city during the event, crawling everywhere from accommodations, movie theaters, airports and even the metro.

This outbreak not only affects tourism but also poses severe challenges as Paris prepares to host the Olympics in 2024.

Although bed bugs are widespread, TIME claims this infestation is not a new problem. “By last year, the French government agency ANSES reported that 11% of French households had experienced bedbugs at some point in the years between 2017 and 2022, adding that such occurrences were not linked to wealth.”

Despite the outbreak, many Parisians are still going about life as normal. The New York Times reports that bars, clubs, restaurants and fashion shows are just as packed as before.

There’s some irony in the fact that bed bugs, which live in fabrics, are having a resurgence during Fashion Week.

“At Christian Cowan[’s runway show,] a stylist friend told me how he’s being extra careful checking looks brands sent to his client, thoroughly steaming things,” Fashion journalist Louis Pisano told The Cut.

Pisano added that stylists and designers were stressed about the potential pests spreading through the textiles worn on runways.

Although the infestation rate is more noticeable, bed bugs are not a new phenomenon in major cities. The New York Health Department claims bed bugs are “common” in New York City.

Some officials go as far as to claim that bed bug infestations are not worse than they were pre-pandemic. The pandemic saw a significant decrease in traveling, so bed bug infestations also decreased significantly.

David Cain, microbiologist and founder of Bed Bugs Ltd told Sky News, “I think there’s probably a similar level of issue in London as there is in Paris at present.”

Numerous specialists suspected bed bug infestations to spread across the Eurostar train lines. Eurostar has been taking extra sanitary precautions since the outbreak in Paris.

The problem with bed bugs is that they are costly to treat. Even if a family or business has the income to treat these pests, “bed bugs became resistant to DDT because it was the main pesticide used on them, and because people used large amounts frequently,” according to National Pesticide Information Center reports.

Ultimately, Paris’ infestation is still a cause for concern, but maybe not to the extent that it has been portrayed on social media. Paris city officials said they are working towards solutions to reduce bed bugs before the Olympics. Travelers were advised to check their beds and report signs of the pests as soon as they see them.

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