In general, cockroaches are shy pests and prefer to stay clear of anything larger than they are. They hide during the day, when humans are most active, and come out at night to feast on the crumbs left behind. They certainly won’t do battle with you for food. They would much rather eat something that won’t fight back and is easy to find. Now you may be asking the question, “are cockroaches dangerous,” and in short the answer is yes!
Cockroaches aren’t the cleanest of pests, and because they are drawn to human food, they are often a cause of food contamination. Cockroaches both defecate and regurgitate on the food that they eat. They have no respect for a fine meal made up of toast crumbs, chip dust, and cereal.
As a result of their lack of cleanliness, it is highly possible that they will spread bacteria and parasites that may be living inside of them. These diseases can be transmitted through infecting open wounds or inhalation. The Salmonella bacteria can be spread by cockroaches, resulting in food poisoning or even typhoid.
Can cockroaches make you sick?
When examining the question, are cockroaches dangerous, it is important to know that cockroaches do not transmit diseases directly to humans through bites like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. Instead, they pass disease indirectly via contaminated food. When a human eats something from a contaminated surface, they may unknowingly ingest feces or body parts from the cockroach.
Cockroaches can contaminate food with their waste and saliva which contains bacteria that can cause food poisoning, diarrhea, and infections. The cockroach’s preferred food source is often discarded, or spoiled food found in garbage bins. When dumpster diving for food, they pick up bacterial organisms on their legs. If they get into your home, they can deposit bacteria onto uncovered food.
Cockroaches eat just about everything, including dead skin, dead animal flesh, rotten and fresh food. Roaches are known to defecate where they eat, leaving droppings directly on food that you may consume. They pick up contaminants on their legs and then spread them around the areas where they walk. If food is contaminated by cockroaches and later consumed by a person, food poisoning may occur.
Breathing dust containing cockroach feces or body parts can cause an allergic reaction and asthma, especially in children. Tiny pathogens and proteins deposited in the dried feces and body parts can produce an allergic reaction in certain people. In addition, the particles are so small that they can be spread through the air via dust and trigger asthma in some people.
Cockroaches can spread many kinds of diseases, but the most common are Salmonella, Listeria, E.coli. Touching items contaminated with bacteria from a cockroach is a common way of transferring disease. If you touch your eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound after touching a contaminated item, the pathogen can enter the body and cause infection.
Some species of cockroaches have been found to bite humans. These cases are rare but if your home is heavily infested with these insects then you should be careful because they can nibble on fingernails, toes and soft parts of the skin causing wounds.
What happens if a cockroach bites you?
Cockroaches will eat just about anything, but they’ll rarely bite humans. If you are bitten, the bite may cause irritation, lesions and swelling.
Larger infestations of roaches, however, increase the likelihood you’ll be bitten. When a cockroach infestation is large, and the food supply scarce, the chances of being bitten increase. In most situations, however, cockroaches will not bite humans if there are other food sources available.
Compared to mosquito or tick bites, cockroach bites aren’t dangerous. Unlike other biting insects, cockroaches don’t transmit any diseases through their bites.
Cockroach bites are not generally life-threatening. They generally cause only minor irritation, swelling, or infection. If you are bitten by a cockroach, thoroughly clean the wound ASAP with rubbing alcohol or an antiseptic and seek medical attention if the bite doesn’t clear within a week.
Do cockroaches spread disease?
Yes, cockroaches can spread disease. You can catch a disease from a cockroach in a variety of ways, the most common of which occurs when eating or encountering items that a cockroach has contaminated.
Like the household fly, the cockroach will eat virtually anything ranging from food spills on a kitchen floor to fecal matter. Bacteria from ingested food can survive in the cockroach’s digestive system and is eventually passed on in its fecal matter.
Cockroaches will vomit and defecate on food and it is believed that diseases can be transmitted to humans when humans eat food contaminated by cockroaches.
How do you prevent cockroaches from spreading disease?
People can protect themselves from the health hazards caused by cockroaches simply by keeping a clean home and by closing off their entry points into the home. Having a clean and sanitary home will make it less inviting to cockroaches and sealing cracks in the walls and spaces near electric sockets, and up through drain traps will close off entry points.
- Keep counters, sinks, tables and floors clean and free of clutter. Clean dishes, crumbs and spills right away.
- Store food in airtight containers, and always avoid leaving food out (including pet food!).
- Seal cracks and gaps in walls, floors and openings around or inside cabinets. Condo- and apartment-dwellers should also seal gaps around plumbing, wall outlets, and switch plates.
- Empty bins regularly
- Clean up any and all food and drink spillages
- Rinse cans, bottles and plastics before recycling
If despite all these measures, you discover a cockroach infestation in your home, contact a pest professional for assistance with elimination and prevention.
The last word ...
Once you see a cockroach, you most likely have a bigger problem. Where there’s one, there are always more. Removal and remediation of cockroaches can be very difficult, especially if you are trying to do it on your own. There are many pesticides and baits for cockroaches, but the chemicals used may not be safe or effective for inexperienced users.
At Sigma Pest Control, our pest technicians are trained to help manage pests of all kinds, including cockroaches. Regardless of whether you have one cockroach or a thousand, we will design a right program for your situation.
Please note, however, that remediation cockroach infestation is not a one-time solution. Cockroaches multiply quickly. Timing is everything. Sigma’s Quarterly Pest Control Service provides a continuing cycle of protection, implementation, and monitoring.