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Cockroach Diseases

Cockroaches are synonymous with dirt, filth, and poor hygiene. Their feeding and nesting habits mean they can easily ingest and carry a wide range of pathogenic microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites on their bodies. This can contaminate food and surfaces, causing illnesses or deterioration of food products. 

For businesses, cockroaches can have a negative impact on both staff health and retention. In addition, those operating within the food industry could experience a breach in food safety laws, product recall, closures and financial loss.


Types of diseases from cockroaches

Cockroaches can spread a range of diseases. However, unlike mosquitoes, they are not direct vectors of diseases. Transmission occurs indirectly, from consumption or contact with items that have been contaminated by cockroaches, rather than through bites. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) “Cockroaches are not usually the most important cause of a disease, but like houseflies, they play a supplementary role in the spread of some diseases.”

Cockroaches are suspected carriers of the organisms that cause the following diseases and infections:

  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Cholera 
  • Dysentery 
  • Gastroenteritis 
  • Giardia 
  • Leprosy
  • Listeriosis  
  • Salmonellosis 
  • Typhoid Fever 

Cockroaches can also trigger asthma and other allergies as well as spread E. coli, staphylococcus aureus and streptococcus.

How do cockroaches spread diseases?

As they are reservoirs of organisms that cause disease rather than vectors, cockroaches can spread diseases through their droppings and saliva or by direct contact.

Cockroach droppings

Due to their unsanitary eating habits, cockroaches can pass harmful pathogens through their droppings. When a cockroach feasts on something contaminated, such as a raw piece of chicken or animal feces, the organism will enter and may lay dormant in their digestive system. The pathogen will then be excreted in cockroach droppings and can contaminate surfaces and food. Droppings may be found behind your kitchen drawers and under your kitchen counters.

Cockroach saliva

Cockroach saliva is also responsible for spreading a range of diseases. Similar to droppings, saliva can harbor pathogens accumulated from eating contaminated items.

Direct contact

Cockroaches can be found living in sewers, cesspits, drains and garbage bins where they come into contact with a range of organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. The legs of a cockroach have spines that are sensitive to touch and provide a very large surface area with which to pick up pathogens. Anything a cockroach touches or rubs past may become contaminated.

How can you catch a disease from a cockroach?

You can catch a disease from a cockroach in a range of different ways. But for the most part, cockroach diseases are caught by coming into contact with items that a cockroach has contaminated.

Eating and drinking contaminated food

This is the most common form of transmission of a disease from a cockroach. This can either be through consuming food contaminated by cockroaches, or by eating or drinking something that has been made using contaminated cooking utensils, cutlery or crockery, or touched contaminated surfaces.

Inhaling contaminated air

If the air supply is contaminated with proteins from cockroach feces, vomit or shed skin, and this is inhaled by people suffering from asthma, an attack can be triggered.

Touching contaminated items

Touching an item that has been contaminated by an organism then touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or an open wound can result in the pathogen entering your body and an infection setting in.

How to prevent cockroaches from spreading diseases

The most effective way to prevent cockroaches from spreading diseases in your home or business is to reduce the possibility of these crawling insects entering your property. The best way to do this is to enlist the necessary cockroach prevention methods. 

You can prevent diseases spread by cockroaches by: 

  • Thoroughly cleaning work and cooking surfaces on a regular basis.
  • Following proper hand hygiene and washing your hands frequently.
  • Sealing cracks and gaps around your property to reduce cockroach entry points.

Cockroaches and asthma

Cockroach allergy was first reported in 1943. It was discovered when patients developed a rash after cockroaches crawled on their skin. Cockroaches can trigger asthma because they have certain proteins in their bodies which can be an allergen for some people. When tiny particles from cockroach bodies are spread through the air in buildings, these proteins are inhaled and an asthma attack can be triggered in sensitive people. 

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that the saliva, feces, and shed skin of cockroaches can trigger both asthma and other allergic responses. 

The National Pest Management Association has carried out studies around cockroach allergens and residential homes. These studies show that around 63% of homes in the U.S. contain allergens. This statistic rises for homes in urban areas (between 78% and 98%). 

The WHO estimates that 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma. Frequent hospital visits by asthmatic children living in cities can often be a result of contact with cockroaches. Around 23-60% of people with asthma are sensitive to cockroach allergens.

Professional cockroach control

The best way to reduce the risk of cockroach diseases is to enlist the help of a professional pest control exterminator.  

With over 100 years of experience, Western Exterminator provides a range of services and solutions to both prevent and eliminate cockroaches. This will greatly reduce the potential for these crawling insects to spread diseases and contaminate products in your home or business.

Contact us online or call us at 800-937-8398 for any cockroach-related questions or to prevent cockroaches in your home or business.

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