Are Americans really behind the bed bug explosion in Paris?

Bed bugs are taking over Paris - and some in France just itching to blame American tourists.

Are Americans really behind the bed bug explosion in Paris?
Photos: AFP
You may have seen the signs of the recent bed bug take over of Paris without even realizing it. 
Mattresses abandoned on the streets, exterminators parked outside hotels around the city, your colleagues scratching at their legs under the table…
Makes you itchy just thinking about it, non?
But it's no laughing matter, with Le Parisien newspaper saying Paris is in the middle of an “explosive phenomenon” right now. 
One property management group in the capital, RIVP, says that it's almost every day that a resident has to ditch an infested mattress. 
“It's been like this for two or three years,” RIVP manager Olivier Perret tells the paper. 
“And we think they're coming from north America.”
A hotelier on the Left Bank shares the concern, telling the paper that the mites are “brought every time by American tourists”.
The paper adds that DisneyLand Paris is regularly infested with bedbugs, noting that the tourist hotspot is hugely popular with… you guessed it, Americans. 
The BFM TV channel also pointed the blame towards north America, noting that bedbugs were “present in huge numbers” across the Atlantic. 
Of course, it's impossible to prove where exactly the bed bugs came from (and with whom they actually travelled), but the fact of the infestation is very real.
Nathalie, a legal counsel who lives in northern Paris, is among those to have recently suffered from a bed bug infestation. 
“In the middle of the night while I was being bit, I woke up realizing what was happening. After checking my back covered with bites I turned my pillow upside down when I discovered one walking on it,” she told The Local. 
She doesn't blame American tourists, however, rather an “old man” living next door who abandoned his flat.
The RIVP group says that 20 percent of the 1,000 buildings it works with – as in, a full 200 buildings – have suffered from bed bug infestations. 
The group has taken to deep-freezing infested furniture at -25C in the hope of killing off the pests, and it appears to be working. 
But some residents complain that nothing seems to work, with one elderly woman saying she has been sleeping fully clothed (with gloves and socks as well) for the past two years. 
And it's not just Paris that is getting hit (or should that be bit?).
In January pest controllers revealed that there were a monstrous 180,000 bedbug infestations throughout France last year.
The CS3D union of pest controllers made the estimation – the first of its kind for France – by collecting data from all its groups of pest controllers across the country.
The union said bedbugs were everywhere from hotels and hostels to hospitals, not to mention retirement homes, backpackers, and even public transport. 
The bed bug, a parasitic insect that feeds exclusively on blood, is mostly active in the dark hours of night and often go unnoticed by their host. 
It's often not until too late that the victim wakes to find itchy red spots on their skin, and sometimes allergic reactions.
The fact that the insects aren't life threatening to humans means they are not a priority for the health authorities, although experts warn that bed bugs should be taken seriously. 
“I think we're dealing with a major public health issue,” Jean-Michel Bérenger, an entomologist at La Timone hospital in Marseille, told Le Figaro.  
“Declaring the number of infected sites should be a mandatory practice to improve care.”