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Cameroon reports that towns and villages are being infested with bedbugs imported from Europe.
Africa Science & Health

Cameroon reports that towns and villages are being infested with bedbugs imported from Europe.

Workers responsible for sanitation and health in Cameroon are actively decontaminating residences in order to eliminate the presence of bedbugs, which have taken over the capital city of Yaounde and various other towns and villages within the central African country. According to government authorities, these parasitic insects are being brought into the country by travelers from Europe, where other nations are also facing infestations.

Citizens of Cameroon are anticipating the arrival of teams from the country’s hygiene and sanitation service to assist in eradicating bugs from their homes.

Kuffo Marilyne, a fruit seller in Yaounde’s Madagascar neighborhood, initially used insecticides to eliminate what she thought were small cockroaches in her home. However, she was taken aback when her three children developed insomnia and experienced irritation from being bitten by these insects.

According to healthcare professionals, being bitten by bedbugs can result in blisters or extensive skin rashes.

Kuffo mentioned that she brought her kids to the hospital for treatment. However, she noted that most of her neighbors, who also have bedbug infestations in their homes, are financially struggling and cannot afford medical treatment for their children.

The government of Cameroon announced that numerous homes in impoverished neighborhoods of Yaounde have been overrun by bedbugs.

According to Cameron’s health ministry, the insects emerge at night to consume human blood and can lead to mental distress, disrupted sleep, and feelings of anxiety and depression.

FILE - Sacha Krief, manager of Hygiene Premium pest control specialized store and extermination service, treats an apartment against bedbugs in Paris on Oct. 6, 2023.

Sacha Krief, the manager of Hygiene Premium, a pest control store and extermination service, is seen treating a Paris apartment for bedbugs on October 6, 2023.

The government has sent out a team of several hundred sanitation and health workers to disinfect households and exterminate the insects.

According to Mariline Longue, a healthcare worker at Cite Verte District Hospital in Yaounde, over 70% of residents in crowded areas of the city have reported bedbug infestations in both their residences and businesses. During a visit to Cameroon’s capital on Wednesday morning, Longue and her team found that 24 out of 30 homes they visited had significant numbers of bedbugs hiding in various places such as mattresses, bed frames, chairs, and sofas.

The government has stated that, in addition to Yaounde and Douala, the main economic center, there are concerns that numerous other towns and villages have also been affected by infestations.

According to Maritial Ayissi, an employee in sanitation for the Yaounde City Council, the insects are originating from countries in Europe.

According to Ayissi, it is regrettable that government leaders failed to take precautions to safeguard borders after the Cameroon National Hygiene and Sanitation Association warned in September that travelers from Europe were bringing bedbugs with them in their suitcases. He noted that numerous used items, such as mattresses, blankets, and clothing, are brought into Cameroon by French merchants and often contain large infestations of bedbugs.

According to Ayissi, the bugs have developed a higher level of resistance to chemical treatments since they vanished from everyday life over two decades ago.

Organizations advocating for human rights and individuals involved in civil society have expressed concerns that the bugs could potentially spread to nearby countries such as Chad and Central African Republic. These countries, which are landlocked, heavily rely on Cameroon for the majority of their imported goods. It is estimated that over 80% of goods that are imported to Chad and CAR from Europe pass through Cameroon’s Douala seaport.

Cameroon authorities have stated that they will take measures to disinfect airports and any goods brought in from Europe if reports of bedbug infestations are confirmed after investigation.

In September, France made an announcement regarding travelers sharing images and videos allegedly depicting bedbugs in Paris’ public transportation, high-speed trains, and at Charles de Gaulle airport, causing a state of alarm.

In October, the French government stated that there was no proof of a reemergence of the irritating bugs on public transportation. However, they did not deny reports of the insects being discovered in certain homes.