LONDON’s mayor warned Tuesday (10) that a spike in bedbug cases across France “is a real source of concern”, as fears grow of the blood-sucking insects spreading to Britain.
Labour mayor Sadiq Khan said his officials were in touch with French authorities, as well as transport bosses in the British capital and the cross-Channel train operator Eurostar, over the issue.
An increase in bedbugs has been reported across France, with many cases in the capital Paris, at a time when the country is hosting the Rugby World Cup and preparing to host the 2024 Olympics.
“People are worried about these bugs in Paris causing a problem in London,” Khan told the PoliticsJoe website.
“We’re taking steps to make sure we don’t have those problems in London, in relation to regular cleaning of the Tube and our buses,” he said, referring to the UK capital’s underground rail system.
“I want to reassure those watching and those listening: TfL (Transport for London) have one of the best regimes to clean our assets on a nightly basis.”
Khan added: “We’re speaking to our friends in Paris to see if there are any lessons to be learned.
“For a variety of reasons we don’t think those issues will arise in London but (there is) no complacency from TfL.”
Bedbugs feed on blood by biting people, creating wounds that can be itchy but do not usually cause other health problems. However, exposure to droppings can trigger asthmatic attacks while bites can cause rashes or more severe reactions such as anaphylaxis.
They typically live on furniture or bedding and can spread by being on clothes or luggage.
London’s mayor said his team was also talking to Eurostar about the situation in France.
The train operator said it has created a “preventive detection campaign” for bedbugs.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our number one priority and across the entire Eurostar network, we have not seen an upsurge in bedbugs on board our trains,” it added in a statement.
Bedbug cases already appear to have been on the rise in Britain.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health warned last month that infestations are “growing”, citing figures from pest-control company Rentokil that showed a 65 per cent rise in the year to mid-2023.