Bed bugs abound during Paris Fashion Week 2023

The recent explosion of bed bugs in Paris has everyone on edge, and as Paris Fashion Week comes to a close, many are worried that it could potentially become a super spreader event.

In an interview with The Cut, fashion journalist Louis Pisano gave insight on the precautions attendees started to take.

“Everyone is stressed and a bit on edge,” Pisano said. “Especially working in fashion, because it’s a lot of fabric changing hands and moving around the city.” 

The CDC describes bed bugs as blood-sucking parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs usually occur in all parts of the world; they’re found on clothes, mattress seams, bed frames, and other furniture.

All across social media Parisians have spread videos of these bugs crawling in various public spaces including trains, buses, and even reportedly airports. Paris authorities have focused all of their attention on fixing the issue, with the looming threat of the Olympic Games being hosted in the city in 2024.

Assistant professor of urban entomology at the University of Kentucky Zachary DeVries gave his thoughts on the ongoing crisis in Paris to The New York Times.

“In large urban cities, bedbugs are just there. It’s a fact of life,” said DeVries. “But some of the videos of things they’re showing — especially on public transportation — were a little bit alarming. Usually if you’re seeing bedbugs out in the middle of the day crawling around on these surfaces, you probably have a lot of them.”

Bed bugs have seen a resurgence in cities across the world in recent years mainly due to the critter developing an immunity to a lot of cleaners used to combat them. According to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety ANSES, around one in 20 households between 2017 and 2022 were infested by bed bugs.

“No one is safe,” said Emmanuel Gregoire, deputy mayor of Paris. “You can catch them anywhere and bring them home, and not detect them in time until they have multiplied and spread.”

However, Gregoire advised against the growing hysteria around the rise in bed bugs, noting that the bugs lived in cities for as long as humans have existed and that careful precautions can be made to limit the spread.


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