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2023 France Bed Bug Infestation, also known as the Paris Bedbug Outbreak, refers to reports about Paris being overrun with bed bugs in public spaces like trains and movie theaters in late 2023. News about the infestation spread in October 2023, with people noting that Paris Fashion Week and European Interrail systems could drive the bed bug infestation worldwide. Internet users made jokes and memes and shared anecdotes about their experiences with bedbugs in response to the news as it spread on social media.
News about France and the U.K. seeing an uptick in bed bug infestations began to spread in 2023. Many articles cited a 2022 survey conducted by the French national health and sanitary body ANSES, which found that 11 percent of French households had dealt with bed bugs between 2017 and 2022. U.K.-based pest company Rentokil also noted a 65 percent increase in bed bug infestations in the country.
One of the earliest viral posts about France's bed bug infestation was an X post shared by user @Germaarig on September 23rd, 2023 (seen below). The post showed people finding bed bugs on French public transportation, gathering over 6 million views and 7,000 likes in a week.
— NaNa Afi (@_LaTogolaise) September 22, 2023
By October 2nd, various news publications wrote about the extent of France's bed bug problem, noting that Paris has been battling bed bugs in its movie theaters, public transportation and hotels for months. French officials quoted in a statement said that the infestation will have no effect on the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.
Various internet users expressed concern about Paris's bed bug infestation spreading internationally, given the city's ongoing Fashion Week and the upcoming 2024 Olympics. For example, X user @erewhonsmoothie made a post on October 2nd, 2023, that read, "LA and New York about to be hit hard when everyone comes back from fashion week I fear," gathering over 50,000 likes in a day (seen below, left) X user @cynfinite made a post on October 2nd that read, "I told my friend about this and she said, 'Somebody sacrificed the right goat in Haiti,' and I screamed," gathering over 165,000 likes in a day (seen below, right).
On September 30th, TikToker @raphaelinparis posted a video about traveling on the Paris subway, gathering over 800,000 plays and 59,000 likes in four days (seen below, left). On October 2nd, TikToker @michelle_et_elles posted a video about checking the trains in Paris for bed bugs, gathering over 1.8 million plays and 39,000 likes in a day (seen below, right).
@raphaelinparis paris really said , lets go back, back to the beginning 💀 #paris #punaisesdelitparis #punaisesdelit #pourtoi #fyp #foryou #funny #drole #raphaelinparis ♬ original sound – Afro Spectrum
@michelle_et_elles Will be standing now on #fyp ♬ Otra Vez – ProdMarvin
Also on October 2nd, X user @issahev posted a thread detailing their experience with bed bugs and how hard they can be to get rid of. The thread gathered over 35,000 likes in a day (seen below).
Memes referencing the bed bugs in Paris and France also trended online in early October 2023, resulting in various coverage from sites and publications.
2021 French Forum Post Conspiracy Theory
Parisians began sharing a forum post from May 2021 in light of the outbreak in 2023, where a French user named @LePUNAISEURFOU or "The Crazy Bug" shares his plan of mailing hundreds of bedbugs to random addresses in different French cities with the aim of infecting the entire country with bed bugs. The user claims that his motivation for his plan is that he hates France and hopes to make some money by investing in bug eradication services, while still inflicting the most psychological damage on French people possible.
The original forum post can be accessed at JVArchive, while a translated version of the post is shown below.
French X user @LeKaManga posted about the thread on September 29th, 2023, mistakenly saying that it was from five months ago instead of from 2021. the post gathered over 29,000 likes in ten days (seen below, left). X user @dyingscribe posted about the forum post on October 8th, 2023, gathering over 26,000 likes in a day (seen below, right).