Huge rise in the number of infestations of parasitic insects reported across Spain
Housing authorities in Madrid are complaining of “a plague of bedbugs” and called for extra measures to tackle the troublesome parasites.
According to pest control experts, the reports of bedbug infestations across Spain have risen by 70 per cent within five years and is now bordering on an “epidemic”.
A residents’ association in the Lavapies district of central Madrid is demanding city authorities provide temporary housing for those affected while their homes are fumigated.
Residents are blaming the proliferation of the insects, which bury themselves deep inside mattresses, on the rise in the number of buildings being squatted in the neighbourhood.
“We never had bedbugs until the squatters moved in,” one neighbour told Spain’s daily El Mundo newspaper.
Madrid city hall has received a surge in calls from residents requesting the collection of contaminated mattresses.
“We had to stand guard for two hours over the mattresses when they were in the street,” said one resident who suffered a recent infestation. “People kept trying to take away the mattresses even though we had labeled them as containing bedbugs,” she said.
Madrid’s public health department has denied that there is a public health problem but admitted that bedbug infestations have been reported in several buildings in Lavapies, one of the capital’s more multicultural districts.
A recent report by Madrid City Hall said the prevalence of bedbugs in some parts of the city had reached “near epidemic” proportions.
“There has been a 70 per cent increase in pest control services,” said Milagros Fernandez de Lezeta, director of Spain’s Pest Control Association, who warned that bedbug infestations are “very difficult to control and spread very easily”.
Bedbugs, which bite humans and suck their blood, were considered virtually extinct in western Europe for at least fifty years. Their reappearance across Spain over the last ten years has been blamed on the increase in mass tourism.
“They can occur anywhere, even the most luxurious hotel,” said Ms Fernandez de Lezeta. “Their presence is not linked to poor sanitary conditions but to the movement of people.”
The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, which attracts more than 100,000 faithful each year, has in recent years had to tackle outbreaks of bedbugs at hostels along the route.