HEALTH – They are everywhere. Between baseboards, on the street or on mattresses on the floor, these apple seed-sized critters are spreading at full speed in French cities. For several years now, bed bug stories have become commonplace. Get off easily, a little less.
That is why the government published its plan against bed bugs on Thursday 10 March. On the program are awareness campaigns or the establishment of a national observatory. This plan was announced in early 2020, with the launch of a dedicated site (stop-punaises.gouv.fr) and a telephone number, 0806 706 806.
But what to do in the meantime when you face the problem? On the one hand, there are people who call on professionals. And on the other hand, the most daring. They prefer to solve the situation themselves. Sometimes, with a bit of luck, it works the first time. But in many cases, if the plague has progressed too far, it boils down to failure instead. However, there is a technique to eliminate them.
This is confirmed by Dr. Arezki Izri, head of the parasitology department of the Hospital of Avicenne (AP-HP) in Bobigny, in Seine-Saint-Denis. “We send the textiles to be washed at 60 degrees, he first explains. Then we vacuum, without forgetting to throw the bag away immediately. Once the bed bugs have been identified, they must be destroyed with a device that blows dry heat. The procedure should be completed in half a day.”
However, the measures to be taken depend mainly on the degree of contamination. As this research work, to which the physician contributed, explains, “Bed bug control surgery should not begin with ‘head down’ and ‘weapons in hand'”. Before starting, it is necessary to find direct evidence of their presence in order to establish the strategy (and whether this can be done without the help of an outside person).
Insecticides are not
What about insecticides? The doctor is adamant: they are ineffective. According to him, they only irritate the bugs or allow them to flee from one apartment to another. “It worked very well in the 1930s, says the professional. We were quiet until the 80s. But the problem is that insects quickly get used to it. Bed bugs have become resistant.”
The use of certain natural products is increasingly being promoted on the internet, forums or social networks. This is the case with diatomaceous earth, a white powder made from fossilized algae that acts like microscopic razor blades on bed bugs. Effective, sure, but it’s very bad for humans. “You shouldn’t inhale it,” cautions Dr. Izri.
In question is the content of crystalline diatomite, a component of many minerals. When it enters the body through the lungs, the particles are deposited in the trachea, bronchi or lungs and remain there. It must be handled with care. To the point that according to the doctor it is even better to wear a mask.
“Nature fights back”
For the latter, the problem of bedbugs is “getting bigger”. Mass tourism and people picking up furniture or mattresses on the street have a lot to do with it. But not alone. “At the global level, we don’t have enough resources to eradicate them,” explains the scientist.
He continues: “If something bothers man, he wants to eradicate it at all costs. But the concern is that nature defends itself. She doesn’t want to disappear. Logically, it will do everything it can to survive, as is the case here with bed bugs.”
An observation that Xavier Robert, medical entomologist at the CNRS, is happy to share. “Generally speaking, it is impossible for us to eradicate the critters,” notes the latter, contacted by The HuffPost† All animals that multiply in contact with humans manage to escape it. Their way of life forces us to tolerate them.”
Should we therefore sink into a state of psychosis? Is it right to panic and fear contamination? No. Certainly, the damage caused by bed bugs, especially to people’s sleep or mood, can be disturbing. “But we know how to get rid of it very well,” the specialist nuances. It’s tough, but we’ll get there.”
See also on The HuffPost: This ant is the fastest in the world thanks to an unstoppable technique