Cockroaches and Your Health - What you need to know

The presence of cockroaches in your home not only presents you with a nasty mess to clean up, but also a fairly serious health risks to you and your family. If you or any of your household suffer from Asthma or any related ailment, then cockroaches in your home may also be a potential death sentence in extreme cases.

How Do Cockroaches Aggravate Asthma?
As cockroaches scuttle around your house whenever you aren’t looking (and sometimes when you are) they leave behind cockroach debris (old shells, shed skins, their saliva, body parts, and droppings) which are then breathed in by us people, and those of us who are sensitised to to the cockroach antigen (an antigen are proteins found in this debris) experience asthma attacks triggered by the body’s reaction to this antigen. In homes or environments where several allergens are present, including dust mites, mould, domestic pets, tobacco smoke, and certain chemicals, some children and adults may experience severe and frequent asthma attacks from high airborne concentrations of these allergens.

Are Cockroaches Dirty?
It is a common belief that cockroaches are filthy insects and having them in your home is a sign of an untidy and dirty home etc. The truth however is quite the opposite. Cockroaches are actually fairly clean creatures and have effective personal hygiene practices.

Pathogens and Bacteria Carriers

Unfortunately for cockroaches, it is actually the bacteria that is harboured in them that is transmitted to humans as well as other pathogens, including a bacteria called Pseudomonas Aeruginosa which is a multidrug resistant pathogen recognised for its ubiquity, its intrinsically advanced antibiotic resistance mechanisms, and its association with serious illnesses. Hospital-acquired infections include ventilator-associated pneumonia and various sepsis syndromes. Roaches can also spread the Salmonella bacteria which leads to Salmonellosis. Salmonellosis is a symptomatic infection caused by bacteria of the Salmonella type. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. This typically occurs between 12 hours and 36 hours after exposure with symptoms lasting from two to seven days. Occasionally more significant disease can result in dehydration. The old, young, and others with a weakened immune system are more likely to develop severe disease.[1] Specific types of Salmonella can result in typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever.

Reducing Your Risks of Infection
Any home or facility, no matter how clean it may be, can have cockroaches lurking in it somewhere. However, there do exist a great many preventative measures which one can and should implement in their daily environment to prevent any unwanted Cockroach related infections. These measures will also assist you to identify the extent of the infestation of your home or facility,as well as enlighten you as to which measures of elimination are to be taken.

General household maintenance, thorough housekeeping, and regular cleaning habits are vital. A strict adherence to these practices ensures that there is no food, water or any kind of shelter on which cockroaches rely to survive. Some of these habits can include:

  • Wiping down and clean counters, tables, and stoves/ ovens after all meals, snacks, and food preparation areas
  • Keeping food confined to specific areas of the house, along with keeping open foods in closed sealed containers, remembering to clean any spills immediately.
  • Keeping all garbage in tightly sealed containers, and not allowing refuse to accumulate too much.
  • Not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, on the counter, or in the dishwasher overnight.
  • Keeping plugs in the socket if you go away for prolonged periods to prevent their entry through the drain pipes into ones sink.
  • Repairing any leaky pipes, toilets, and other plumbing problems, as well as leaking roofs.
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