Cockroaches are not just creepy to look at and revolting when it comes to their habits, an infestation of cockroaches in the home can also be a severe health hazard. The potential for disease-causing pathogens in a home skyrocket when there is an infestation of cockroaches present.
In this article we will cover the threat the cockroaches pose due to their potential for transmitting harmful diseases and what you can do to protect yourself and your family from being exposed to such diseases.
The Reason Cockroaches are Disease Carriers
Cockroaches are an unclean insects. It is in their nature to be around filth and there is no location, no matter how unsanitary, that they won’t cross to get their fix of food, aside from places that are freezing cold.
Wherever the cockroaches travel, they carry a little bit of that filth with them. As they scavenge for food, they will cross the dirtiest of places. Some of their favorite places to travel to look for food are around dumpsters, garbage disposals, landfills and sewage systems.
If you can only imagine a cockroach crawling over such areas and then traveling into your home and trekking over your food, counters and surfaces, they are leaving behind footprints containing all sorts of germs that can potentially bring forth disease.
What is perhaps the biggest health threat that comes from cockroaches is their shed skins as they are growing the fecal matter that they leave behind in our homes.
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The Common Diseases Cockroaches Transmit
Cockroaches have been reported to carry 33 different types of bacteria, six parasitic worms and seven other human pathogens. Some of these diseases include the following:
Salmonella – this common disease that often gets spread to food is known to cause Typhoid, a nasty infection that can be life-threatening. Symptoms like stomach aches, fever, diarrhea, fever and vomiting can occur in 2 to 3 days after infection. It usually takes a week to recover from the diseases as long as you get a good amount of fluids to replenish your body.
Gastroenteritis – this disease can vary in severity, from minor cases like stomach pain and nausea to more severe issues like diarrhea which may lead to a person becoming dehydrated and needing medical attention.
Leprosy – This disease is believed to be caused by the feces of the cockroach. This infection primarily damages the skin, nerves and eyes. If left untreated, the disease can lead to paralysis and blindness.
Some other diseases that roaches can transmit are E.Coli, Cholera, Dysentery and Poliomyelitis. With all these hazardous health conditions, cockroach infestations should be taken very seriously.
Cockroaches cause Severe Allergic Reactions
If you or someone you know suffers from allergies or asthma, the presence of cockroaches can trigger asthma and breathing problems. This is because certain proteins found in cockroach droppings, saliva can be an allergen to sensitive people.
So if you were to have a cockroach crawl over your skin, you could develop a rash. Also, if there is an area of the home where cockroaches have left a lot of droppings and you can smell that musty smell of their feces, they may trigger allergic reactions or an asthma attack to those that are susceptible.
If you are suffering from symptoms like itchy skin, a stuffy nose, dry eyes, scratchy throat, you may be feeling the effects of a cockroach infestation being present.
Ways Cockroaches Can Infect You With Disease
You can come down with an infection from a cockroach in a number of ways. Most of the time though, cockroach diseases infect people who come into contact with items that cockroaches have come into contact with and left some of their remnants on.
Eating or Drinking Something a Cockroach has Been In/on
The most widely recognized type of transmission of an infection from a cockroach is from eating or drinking anything it has come into contact with. This can either be through drinking or eating something the cockroach has crawled over or fallen into, using a utensil that cockroach has crawls over or if any food or cooking item has touched a surface that has been debased by roaches.
Breathing In Cockroach Odors
This goes back to the asthma issue that some sensitive people suffer. Where cockroach infestation are severe, there is usually a concentration of cockroach feces, pheromones and other remnants that are left behind that leave an undeniable musty odor that almost smells sweet in a sickening way. It can be unpleasant to smell, but for allergic people it can trigger breathing problems or at worst an asthma attack.
Skin Contact With Contaminated Items
Coming into contact with a thing that has been contaminated and then touching your eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound can bring about the pathogen entering the body and spread the disease.
How To Prevent the Cockroaches From Spreading Diseases
The best way to tackle the health hazard of cockroaches present and the threat of disease is to eliminate cockroaches from the household. Proper cockroach prevention involves a combination of thorough sanitation of your home via a solid and consistent cleaning routine to eliminate cockroach food and water sources, washing your hands on a regular basis, excluding cockroaches from the home by sealing up cracks and crevices and finally using cockroach control products to kill the infestation.
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A Consistent Cleaning Regimen
It may sound like a no brainer but cleaning your home is one of the best ways to reduce the activity of cockroaches and making your home less appealing to them. Cleaning is one of the most effective methods for preventing cockroaches. This will take away food and water sources that the cockroach has been enjoying thus reducing the spread of bacteria and disease.
It is important to note that this is a routine and not a one and done or once in a while type of task. You need to make it a regular part of your daily living or weekly routine to clean your home, paying special attention to your kitchen and bathroom as these two areas are the places where cockroaches are most active.
Some of the tasks that should be a must is sweeping and mopping tiled floors, vacuuming your carpeting, furniture, and kitchen cabinetry, and getting rid of crumbs and dropped food. Your kitchen counters should be wiped down with a surface cleaner, sinks and drains should be cleaned out and cooking utensils should be washed and cleaned before and after use.
You should never let dishes pile up in your sink and if you do, you need to make sure that you do not leave them overnight. Wash and dry them before bed. Reducing moisture should also be a part of the cleaning routine so after you do clean up surfaces you wipe over with a dry cloth or towel, especially your kitchen sink.
Washing Your Hands
It should go without saying that washing your hands on a regular basis is a must to reduce the spread of catching a cockroach-borne disease infection. Wash your hands with soap and warm water eliminates any germs or disease you may have contact when touching items, using pots and pans and other items that cockroaches may have crawled over in your kitchen.
It is especially important to wash your hands before, during and after preparing food, after using the bathroom, before and after eating and after handling any items that may have come into contact with cockroaches.
Sealing Off Points Of Entry
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A home, unfortunately, features a lot of hiding places for cockroaches to gather and nest then wait for an opportunity to slip out and forage when people have gone to bed. By sealing these entry points, it reduced cockroach safe zones and leaves cockroaches vulnerable, on top of cockroaches having less potential for transmitting disease.
Using caulk and a caulking gun that you’d get from any hardware store, begin going around your kitchen, bathroom and other parts of the home and look for cracks, gaps and holes that a cockroach may fit into and seal them up. That great thing about doing this is that if cockroaches are hiding in a crevice and you seal it up, the cockroaches are trapped and will die from starvation and thirst. Do your best to be thorough because it really can make a big difference.
Cockroach Control Products
Last but not least, you should apply cockroach control products to lay waste to the cockroach infestation. Using the right cockroach pesticides can potentially eliminate the entire population if used correctly. It is recommended to not use one lone product but use two or three different modes of cockroach control so if one product doesn’t kill the infestation, the other will.
It also helps to use multiple products that are centered on different phases of the cockroach life cycle. For example, cockroach gel bait is a great item for controlling cockroach adults, which account for about 20% of the cockroach infestation. The other 80 percent should be targeted with the help of a product called an Insect Growth Regulator.
While cockroaches don’t bite and harm us directly in encounters, their unsanitary behavior is the real danger when they are around and is why they need to be dealt with quickly if you discover an infestation. Cockroach numbers will only rise in the home when you don’t intervene and so does the risk of catching a disease.