Faced with the resurgence of bedbugs in France, should we put our social life on hold? Is inviting friends over, for example, becoming dangerous? We asked Nicolas Roux de Bézieux, pest experts and co-founder of the Badbugs site.
Can we still have friends over without fear of inviting undesirables like bedbugs? The question may indeed arise today, when the subject of bedbugs is sweeping across France and impacting many places (hotels, cinemas, trains, schools, etc.). But should we adapt our way of living, or even deny ourselves time with family or friends? Are we really there?
The invitation is a factor of transmission between accommodations
To make sure, we called on Nicolas Roux de Bézieux, a great expert on bedbugs and founder of the Badbugs site. For him, unfortunately, the fact of moving from one accommodation to another by inviting himself over for dinner falls well within the transmission factors:
“It is not the main cause, which remains travel, but it is a risk, and it indeed remains the second cause of transmission in France”.
A risk that is all the greater since we do not always know we are infected by bedbugs (at first) and we do not necessarily pay attention to our belongings. The risk is also double, since guests can also in certain cases catch it from their hosts.
You can still invite yourself by respecting simple rules
However, the expert absolutely does not recommend putting an end to our social life and even less leaving our friends who have a bedbug problem at home aside. : “This would only amplify a phenomenon of social exclusion that is already present.”
To continue to invite yourself, without panicking, you just need to act with full knowledge of the facts:
- “The first thing is to educate, if we can, with those close to us because the danger comes especially from people who do not know they are infected or who are at the very beginning of“So it’s up to everyone to examine their home, to ask themselves the right questions in the event of an injection, to treat their clothing in case of doubt;
- Then, avoid putting your coats and bags in a bedroom, or in any dark room, so as not to risk transmitting or catching bedbugs. The bug is luciphobic, which means it fears light. “It remains very rare to carry them on your clothes, but if one of them is in the bottom of a pocket or the handbag, it will not come out if the item is placed in full light and in a place of passage” the expert reassures us.
- If a friend experiences an episode of bedbugs in his home, there is no need to ban him: “SIf people treat their laundry and don’t come with a bag, there is no reason to be afraid of it, you have to stay measured!” insists Nicolas Roux de Bezieux
- Finally, if you have to stay with your host for several days, you should act as in hotels to protect yourself from an infestation: in particular check the mattress and the headboard. Note if you have any bites, and if in doubt, seal clothing in plastic bags. Once you get home, put your clothes in the freezer or in the machine at 60° and dry. As for the bag or suitcase, our specialist advises steam cleaning it, or simply throwing it away if the infestation is proven.
Growing fear of bedbugs: scourge or good news?
At home or elsewhere, can we still talk about a place without fearing bedbugs? Are we facing a scourge, or is this very exaggerated? For the specialist, several parameters must be taken into account:
“There are two phenomena:
- On the one hand there is a constant increase in cases which double approximately every 5 years. ANSES announced last summer that 11% of French people had been affected by bedbugs. They were 7% in 2021, there is definitely an increase in cases. But there is also an increase in interventions, which does not mean an increase in infestations! In our country, 3 out of 4 calls regarding bedbugs are not bedbugs.
- There are also many French people who react much earlier to treat the problem which increases the numbers, a good thing when we know that a bedbug can lead to thousands in 6 months if nothing is done.”
But Nicolas Roux de Bézieux does not see a negative or intractable effect in the long term, quite the contrary: “In the end we encounter with a delay what happened 10-15 years ago in New York. Since then, people have been informed, react more quickly, no longer let infections take hold, the problem is solved. We are undoubtedly at “our” educational moment, which means that we are learning how to react and how to treat the issue. There will definitely be a positive effect to this.”