The Timone adult hospital in Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) has been hit by an outbreak of bedbugs, with the entire 12th floor said to be affected.
The infestation started just before the Christmas 2017 holidays, according to reports from staff to news source 20 Minutes, and is still said to be a problem, affecting units including the neurology and neuro-oncology departments.
The news came to light after an anonymous staff member spoke to the press about the outbreak, and allegedly also said that staff had been “warned orally to not say anything and certainly not to speak to the press about the issue”.
Yet, the staff member concerned, speaking to 20 Minutes, said: “We have to talk about the issue, to be able to solve it.”
The hospital is now attempting to contain and destroy the outbreak, with patients from the affected areas reportedly moved to a new separate unit while the affected areas are dealt with, according to recommendations from infections committee the Comité de lutte contre les infections nosocomiales.
Despite this, here are still fears that the insects could spread to other floors and other beds in the building.
Advice given to staff and patients to avoid the insects spreading even further include wearing extra layers of clothes, which can be discarded more easily after suspected contact, and to close the doors of patient rooms when coming and going.
Staff are also said to have been given disposable overalls, latex gloves, masks, and glasses.
The infestation is thought to have come from a patient, who was admitted to the 12th floor of the hospital, and brought bedbugs with him from the outside, despite the usual hygiene tests that are said to be done on any new patients.
Once the infestation was discovered, the patient in question was reportedly completely disinfected by staff, but the problem appeared to have spread already.
Bedbugs live and lay eggs in mattresses, sheets, and other bedding, and can cause red, painful bites, as well as severe allergic reactions including fever and blisters – although they are not known to be carriers of any illness.
Visible to the human eye – but still just a couple of millimetres wide – they are infamously difficult to get rid of, can spread quickly, and can travel on human skin. Often, the easiest way to get rid of them is to simply throw away the mattresses concerned, and disinfect or throw away all towels, sheets, and bed frames, before replacing with new ones.
The insects are said to be spreading more and more across France and Europe as a whole, with a Facebook group called Anonymous Métropole one of the associations to have “pulled the alarm” on the issue as far back as July 2017.