EXCLUSIVE Rugby fan, 24, heading to Marseille for the World Cup ‘has been having nightmares’ about bedbugs and will avoid sitting on public transport – as visitors bring their own bedsheets

Rugby fans travelling to France this weekend for the World Cup quarter-finals are avoiding public transport and bringing their own bedsheets as the country reels from a nationwide panic over bedbugs.

Infestations have plagued French cities including Paris and Marseille, with households dumping mattresses in the street as they try to rid themselves of the notoriously hard-to-kill mites.

Over the next few days, thousands of Brits are headed to France’s second largest city Marseille as Wales play against Argentina on Saturday, while England take on Fiji on Sunday.

One rugby fan told MailOnline she plans to ‘actively avoid’ sitting on public transport and has started having ‘nightmares’ about bedbugs after watching videos of the critters on social media.

Natalie Shenkosky, 24, who lives in London, said: ‘I’m heading off to Marseille tomorrow for the rugby-filled weekend and the bed bug situation is definitely making me a bit wary.

Natalie Shenkosky, 24, who lives London, told MailOnline: ‘I’m heading off to Marseille tomorrow for the rugby-filled weekend and the bed bug situation is definitely making me a bit wary

Ms Shenkosky said: 'It also feels like an infestation we shouldn't be having this day and age?'

Ms Shenkosky said: ‘It also feels like an infestation we shouldn’t be having this day and age?’

Video shows a backstreet in Marseille filled with home furnishings abandoned during the crisis

Video shows a backstreet in Marseille filled with home furnishings abandoned during the crisis

Bed bugs are seen in a sofa bed in L'Hay-les-Roses near Paris, France, last week

Bed bugs are seen in a sofa bed in L’Hay-les-Roses near Paris, France, last week

Comic opera star Melinda Hughes tweeted on her trip to Lyon: 'I plan to put myself in the freezer for 72 hours when I get home'

Comic opera star Melinda Hughes tweeted on her trip to Lyon: ‘I plan to put myself in the freezer for 72 hours when I get home’

‘It also feels like an infestation we shouldn’t be having this day and age? 

‘I’m not taking my own sheets, but will definitely not be sitting on any transportation seats and will be keeping a close eye out for bugs in our Airbnb.

Seven possible signs of bed bugs in your room 

1. Blood

When the bugs get squashed they release a lot of blood, especially around the seams of mattresses – which is where they tend to hide. These spots can start to look a rusty colour the longer they have been there. Ensure both sides of the mattress are free from any blood stains before hitting the hay.

2. Eggs

It may sound obvious that spotting eggs would be a telltale sign of a bug infestation but they’re not always hiding in plain sight. The eggs are tiny and can be found in numerous places, not just on the mattress. They are about 1mm wide and are often a pale yellow colour.

3. Musty odour

You may have been to a hotel that smells a little strange before but the odour excreted by bed bugs is certainly distinguishable. If the bedroom area has a strong, musty and unpleasant odour this could possibly come from a bed bug’s scent glands. It’s strongest when there are large amounts of bugs present.

4. Dark spots on walls

Although this is slightly less common, bed bugs can also leave stains on walls too. If you do notice any dark spots this could be bed bug excrement.

5. Bug shells

Much like many other creatures, bugs shed their skin once they begin to grow. When trying to identify a shell you should look for small, husk-like specks that may crunch if squashed. They are primarily found amongst fabric, so check mattresses, headboards, sofas and any other upholstery.

6. White spots on furniture

Bed bugs also like to lay their eggs in furniture as well as mattresses, especially sofas. These will look like bunches of small white spots from a distance, but on closer inspection, this can be where the bugs have decided to keep their eggs.

7. Bites

If you haven’t spotted any of these signs but have woken up with small, red, itchy spots on your skin, this could be down to the creepy critters. The bites will often form a straight line across a part of your body, this is a hallmark bed bug trait. Mosquitoes and fleas don’t bite in this formation, so if you do notice these red spots it is best to seek medical advice.

‘I’ll be travelling to Marseille with friends and family – we secured the tickets about a year ago now and they just so happen to be for the England and Wales game.

‘We’ve so been looking forward to it, but bed bugs will not be ruining the weekend – although I can’t lie I have had a few nightmares after seeing the viral videos of the bugs on transportation – which we will actively avoid if we can.

‘I’ll definitely be rooting for England, however my boyfriend used to work for the Wales rugby team so that will also be fantastic to watch.’

Nicola Murray, 28, from Sligo, Ireland, arrived in Paris last Friday and said she had brought her own bedsheets, the Times reported

She said: ‘We’re going to avoid taking public transport where we can and rent bikes for the weekend.

‘I got a mattress protector and I have my own bed sheets and I told one of the girls to bring Jungle [Formula] insect repellant spray, because that has deet in it that will deter the bedbugs.’

It comes amid fears that France’s infestation could find its way to Britain.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said it was a  ‘real source of concern’ that the problem may spread to the capital.

Transport for London (TfL) has begun disinfecting Tube seats on a daily basis to stop infestations.

But experts fear Brits heading to France for the Rugby World Cup could bring the insects back with them.

Nic Shacklock from Online-Bedrooms said: ‘It’s estimated over a million fans are heading to the Rugby Village.

‘If everyone is using public transport while Paris is gripped by a bed bug infestation, it’s more than likely an outbreak is heading to our shores.’

He added: ‘It’s worth placing bin bags or thick plastic bags on seats while using the Metro as they don’t like to cling onto smooth plastic materials.

‘We also advise being cautious when you arrive at the hotel room. Check under your bed sheets and strip the entire room as the bugs can be hiding within the mattress and on the sofa.’

Thousand of Irish fans made the trip to Paris last weekend for the match against Scotland on Saturday, with more set to arrive this week.

Experts say Internet searches for bedbugs in Ireland have peaked at an all-time high as the public looks for guidance to avoid the unwanted parasites.

The French government is battling to contain a bout of nationwide panic, with several secondary schools closing due to the infestation. 

Footage shows residents walking past discarded mattresses in one of the streets in Marseille and Lyon, with some of the items lying in the road and others propped up against buildings.

Locals are also chucking out their home furnishings because of the issue, with a placard reading ‘bedbugs‘ pinned to the headboard of a bed to warn others not to take it.

The crisis has been something of sore spot for France as it hosts thousands of British and Irish rugby fans in Marseille and Paris for the Rugby World Cup this weekend.

Mattresses and other items discarded in the streets in due to the bedbugs infestation

Video from Marseille appears to shows residents throwing mattresses from apartments into the street below in attempt to rid their homes of bedbugs 

A mattress is seen abandoned on a sidewalk in Marseille next to a line of bins

A mattress is seen abandoned on a sidewalk in Marseille next to a line of bins

Sheets get an airing from balconies in Marseille as the southern French city deals with bed bugs

Sheets get an airing from balconies in Marseille as the southern French city deals with bed bugs

Government officials were holding an emergency meeting on Friday on how to tackle a crisis borne out of anecdote and viral posts on social media, and which is now filling talk show airtime – even if pest-control experts remain largely nonplussed.

Rail travellers, cinemagoers and US influencers in Paris for Fashion Week were among those reporting seeing the bugs, or being bitten by them.

Leftist lawmaker Mathilde Panot took a vial she said contained bedbugs into parliament. 

She told French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne bedbugs were everywhere and she lambasted the government for inaction.

‘Madame prime minister, these little insects are spreading despair in our country. Do we need to wait for Matignon (PM’s office) to become infested before you act,’ Panot said.

Sniffer dogs are inspecting French trains and the Paris metro for bedbugs, though so far not a single one has been found on public transport, the country’s transport minister, Clement Beaune, said.

Beaune met last week with transportation companies to draw up a plan for monitoring and disinfecting – and to try to ease what some have called a national psychosis inflamed by the media.

‘There is no resurgence of cases,’ Beaune said, telling reporters that 37 cases reported in the bus and Metro system and a dozen others on trains proved unfounded – as did viral videos on social media of tiny creatures supposedly burrowing in the seat of a fast train.

Between 2017 and 2022, more than one in ten French households had been infested with bedbugs, the health authority says. 

The National Agency for Food, Environmental and Workplace Safety (ANSES) said the presence of bedbugs did not mean poor hygiene.

Concerns have grown over a bedbug infestation in London after a video went viral over the weekend of what was claimed to be a bed bug on a person’s leg on the Victoria line.

A bed bug is seen on a glove of a biocide technician from Hygiene Premium in Paris last month

A bed bug is seen on a glove of a biocide technician from Hygiene Premium in Paris last month

If you are concerned that you may have brought the bugs into the house, Rik Smith of Goodlord says you should 'put affected clothes and bedding in the freezer for a few hours before washing'

If you are concerned that you may have brought the bugs into the house, Rik Smith of Goodlord says you should ‘put affected clothes and bedding in the freezer for a few hours before washing’

There are also fears the bed bug invasion has reached Luton in Bedfordshire after the local authority said it had received an ‘alarming number’ of calls about the insects. Elsewhere, a bed bug was supposedly spotted on a bus in Manchester yesterday

There has been increasing concern in recent days that the French outbreak could spread to the UK, not least because rugby fans are travelling to and from France for the World Cup – with England playing Fiji in the quarter-final in Marseille on Sunday. 

But some experts have disputed whether the creature is indeed a bed bug, with one saying it was not ‘flat enough’ and another saying that the clip ‘looks wrong.’ 

Why are bedbugs infesting France – and are they on the march? 

The French government is battling to contain a bout of nationwide panic over bedbugs in Paris just nine months before the capital hosts next summer’s Olympic Games.

Between 2017 and 2022, more than one in ten French households had been infested with bedbugs, the country’s health authority says.

A pest control companies’ organisation in France said bedbug callouts in the June to August period were up 65 per cent on the same period last year.

Several decades ago, bedbugs were kept in check by cheap and potent insecticides – but many, including DDT, were later found to be dangerous to human health and banned.

Bedbugs have successfully developed resistance to other, milder insecticides, scientists have said.

The latest rebound in bedbug numbers in Paris is in part down to a revival in tourism in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic. Bedbugs are often carried in clothing and baggage.

Now, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the threat of France’s bedbug outbreak spreading to the capital’s public transport network is ‘a real source of concern’.

There have been videos shared on TikTok of bedbugs on the Underground in recent days, but none have been fully verified by experts at this stage.

However, the problem may already be set in, with molecular biologist David Cain, founder of Bed Bugs Ltd, saying: ‘The reality is we already have a large enough problem in the UK.’ 

He added: ‘The thing that sparked all the concern in Paris is already happening in London.’

Another commuter shared a video on TikTok of what they claimed was a bed bug on a Central line train in west London – but, again, this has not been verified by experts.

A different passenger posted a video from the Northern line, saying they would not sit down because they saw what they thought were bed bug eggs on the seat material.  

Transport for London (TfL) is disinfecting seats daily after videos circulated on social media showing train seats on the Paris Metro crawling with the blood-sucking bugs, fuelling concerns that they will still be a problem when the city hosts the Olympics.

However, Richard Wall, from the University of Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences, said the insect in the Victoria line video was not ‘flat enough’ to be a bed bug.

He told Metro.co.uk: ‘I’m also pretty confident that it’s not a tick either (too big). It’s worth noting that bed bugs are largely nocturnal.’

And Adam Juson from the pest control company Merlin Environmental said the apparent bed bug did not appear to be real.

He told the Daily Telegraph: ‘It does look sort of like a bed bug but the video is not really good enough to ID from. The bug is not mobile so this could be a remnant from a treatment or one that has got caught on the person’s clothes.

‘We have found bed bugs on trains in the past so it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility but this looks wrong.’

But David Cain, molecular biologist and founder of Bed Bugs Ltd, told Sky News: ‘There’s been a lot of attention, people worrying about bed bugs coming across from France. But the reality is we already have a large enough problem in the UK.

‘Just yesterday there were videos of people showing bed bugs crawling on people on the Tube system in London. So the thing that sparked all the concern in Paris is already happening in London.’

Mr Cain added: ‘Because the problem has exploded so rapidly over the last decade – they’re now in public spaces, cinemas, doctor’s surgeries, hospitals, all over the place, you then have to check your own bed.

‘The reality is we spend an average of 180 hours a month sleeping in our beds. So we really should give them the respect of 30 minutes once a month to clean them.’

Mr Khan said he was concerned, but TfL was doing everything it could to ensure the bed bug infestation in France does not spread to public transport in London.

He told PoliticsJOE: ‘This is a real source of concern, right? People are worried about these bugs in Paris causing a problem in London. 

A pest control technician sprays an insecticide under a mattress in Paris last Wednesday

A pest control technician sprays an insecticide under a mattress in Paris last Wednesday

Products used to eradicate bedbugs at the Hygiene Premium pest control shop in Paris

Products used to eradicate bed bugs at the Hygiene Premium pest control shop in Paris

‘I was in contact with TfL last week and this weekend. We’re taking steps to make sure we don’t have those problems in London, in relation to regular cleaning of not just the Tubes and our buses, but talking to the Eurostar as well.

‘TfL have one of the best regimes to clean our assets on a nightly basis. 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 no complacency from TfL.’

TfL has confirmed that it is monitoring trains and buses for any indication that the infestation could have reached the UK.

A TfL spokesman said: ‘We are continuing to closely monitor our network but are not aware of any outbreaks in London. 

‘We are continuing to implement our rigorous and thorough cleaning measures that have been proven to keep both the interior and exterior of our trains clean. 

‘We are committed to providing a clean and safe environment on our bus, Tube and rail service for our customers and staff, and we would like to reassure our customers that we continue to maintain our already high standards of cleanliness, so our staff and customers can use the network safely and with confidence.’

  • Are you a rugby fan heading to the World Cup in France this weekend? Tell us about your bedbug concerns – email [email protected].

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