Public and media interest in bed bugs-Europe 2023

Peter Brimblecombe, Gabi Mueller, Pascal Querner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In late summer of 2023 bed bug (Cimex lectularius) infestations received much media attention especially from Paris Fashion Week (2023–09–25/2023–10–03). Concern in France has grown in recent years and the public may have been sensitised from the recent release of the report Les punaises de lit: impacts, prévention et lutte from the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire. Additionally, families returning from summer travel for the start of the school year (2023–09–04) may have brought Cimex spp. with them. A belief, typically false, that they are associated with poor housekeeping and the commercial sensitivity of infestations makes quantitative data on the occurrence and frequency of the insects difficult to find. Often it was based on the number of consultations with physicians and enquiries about bed bugs. Our study has used Google search frequency (Google Trends) to assess the growth and spread of public interest. It found that concern over the Paris outbreak spread to neighbouring countries and was an inverse function of distance. Health issues are a popular topic in science journalism and articles with bad news, threat, continuity and geographic proximity helped generate considerable media activity such that the public perceptions of the problem were enhanced and suggests that government agencies need to collect well standardised data on bed bug occurrence. Google Trends proved a sensitive tool to follow the public concern over an insect that invokes considerable dread.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100079
JournalCurrent Research in Insect Science
Volume5
Early online date2 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Keywords

  • Cimex lectularius
  • Google trends
  • Infestation
  • Paris
  • Pest eradication

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