Algeria begins anti-bedbug campaign amid French panic

Algeria begins anti-bedbug campaign amid French panic
2 min read
France has a large Algerian community, and daily flights between the two countries have prompted fears the bed bug crisis could spread
France is grappling with a bed bug crisis that has swept across Paris [Getty]

Algeria has announced "preventative measures" to thwart the spread of bedbugs, after a surge of reported sightings in France, home to a large Algerian diaspora.

Fears are growing that with Paris set to host the Olympic Games in nine months, the surge in visitors could turbocharge numbers of the blood-sucking creatures in the French capital.

The Algerian health ministry announced in a statement Thursday "the activation of a health vigilance system" alongside a series of measures to prevent any infestation linked to harmful insects.

It said the measures would include "inspections and disinfection of aeroplanes, ships and land transportation... and the strengthening of epidemiological monitoring."

They would be preceded by the "cleaning and sanitising of airports, seaports, and land entries, inspection and sanitising baggage and merchandise liable to contain harmful insects."

Video footage from France showing bedbugs on trains and in cinemas has spread widely on social media.

Dozens of flights from French airports land in Algeria daily, while the two countries are also connected by ferry.

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Fear of the bugs has caused panic in France, with the government under pressure from all sides as the Olympics loom.

One opposition MP even brandished a vial of bedbugs in the National Assembly this week while demanding action.

In the face of this growing anxiety, the government has scheduled an inter-ministerial meeting for Friday to discuss the problem.

Government spokesman Olivier Veran said ministers were keen to "respond to the legitimate anxieties of the French" public.

Bedbugs had largely disappeared from daily life in developed countries by the 1950s, but they rebounded in the past 30 years.

That is thanks to their growing resistance to insecticides, an increase in public travel and a rising proclivity for second-hand goods.

Figures released in July by the French health authorities show more than one in 10 households in the country have been affected by bedbugs in the past five years.