Resurgence of bedbugs in southern France: a local problem or the tip of the iceberg?


JJ Morand. E-mail:


Background  Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) have been feeding on sleeping human beings since prehistory. In Europe, bed bugs were common and endemic until World War II when improved body and home hygiene, and widespread use of insecticides led to almost complete eradication. Current evidence indicates that bedbugs are making a comeback in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. In our practice in Southern France, we observed several cases within a period of only 1 year.

Objectives  Based on this experience, we conducted an epidemiological study to evaluate the status of bedbugs in France.

Methods  During summer 2009, we mailed a short questionnaire to all hospital professors in the CEDEF (Collège des Enseignants de Dermatologie de France) asking four questions: number of suspected diagnosis of bedbugs in the year 2009, and number of certain positive diagnosis, difficulties in treatment, use of a pest control professional for treatment, and finally personal opinion on actual incidence of bedbugs, compared with past years.

Results  Of the 84 questionnaires sent, there were only 26 responses despite two reminders. The responses were predominantly southern France, probably as a result of intensive immigration and increased travel and trade. Difficulties encountered during diagnosis and treatment are also mentioned. Utilizing the services of entomological experts and pest control professionals is essential.

Conclusions  France has the same experience regarding the resurgence of bedbugs as several European countries, USA, Canada and Australia, especially the southern regions. This emerging health problem has to be known by dermatologists. A national programme has been launched in France to assess actual incidence and study C. lectularius- related diseases.