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11/09/2008

News Alert! A new smallpox epidemic!

Bedbug plague strikes Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route

An urgent mass disinfection of hostels along the Road to Santiago, one of the oldest pilgrimage routes in Europe, is to be carried out by Spanish authorities.

By Fiona Govan in Madrid
Last Updated: 2:45PM BST 10 Sep 2008
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/...grim-route.html


Convents and hostels along the route to the north-western Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela have become infested by bedbugs, spread by the more than 100,000 pilgrims who travel to the shrine of St James every year.

The insects, which bury themselves deep inside mattresses and pillows in the pilgrims' quarters, are causing untold numbers of travellers to have sleepless nights and are responsible for many falling ill on the way.

The Federation of Friends of the Camino de Santiago has proposed a simultaneous clean up at all overnight stops along the route from the town of Roncesvalles on the French border in the Pyrenees.

"It's a plague and it's incredibly dangerous," said Angel Luis Barreda from the organisation that oversees the pilgrimage path.

"The tiny insects are difficult to remove unless there is a strong and organised disinfection," he told Spanish daily newspaper 20 Minutos. "Action is needed".

The worst hit establishments have in the past closed their doors to disinfect the beds but they quickly become reinfested as unwashed pilgrims carry the bugs, of the Cimicidae genus, with them from other shelters.

The organisation has proposed that all the regional authorities along the 460 mile route through Spain join forces and simultaneously disinfect the guesthouses to wipe out the pest once and for all.

Mr Barreda believes winter is the best time to act when few except the most devout pilgrims attempt the route, which dates back to the ninth century.

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