Cockroaches are synonymous with filth and poor hygiene. Their feeding and nesting habits mean they can accumulate a range of pathogenic organisms which they transmit to food and surfaces where they feed and crawl.
We get sick when we contact the diseases that cockroaches carry, the contact might be as a result of contamination of our living spaces, food, household utensils and so on, and people develop an allergic reaction to the presence of cockroach feces. Nobody purposefully exposes him/herself to cockroach diseases and feces but it happens by inhalation of a dust particle in the air that has left behind by the cockroach. If our food has not been stored properly, it can be contaminated with cockroach feces and its salivary gland secretion.
Cockroaches may spread a range of diseases; It is believed that the cockroach may be a reservoir for a range of bacteria including Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and salmonella. The cockroach can also harbor viruses such as the poliovirus (poliomyelitis).
Cockroaches will vomit and defecate on food and it is thought that disease may be transmitted to humans when humans eat food contaminated by cockroaches. Cockroaches leave chemical trails in their feces as well as emitting airborne pheromones for swarming and mating. These chemical trails transmit bacteria on surfaces. Other cockroaches will follow these trails to discover sources of food and water, and also discover where other cockroaches are hiding.
Cockroaches can transmit the following diseases:
It is believed that cockroaches accumulate the bacteria by feeding on contaminated food. The Salmonella remains in their digestive system for a month or more and is deposited through their vomit and feces.
Human symptoms, which typically show 12 to 72 hours after infection, include diarrhea, fever, and vomiting (to name a few). Recovery usually occurs after four to seven days, with little to no medical treatment need, besides replenishing fluids.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by the Salmonella typhi bacterium and is a highly infectious disease. It is believed that cockroaches accumulate this disease by consuming feces contaminated with the bacterium.
Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal infection caused by the Vibrio cholera bacterium. It is most common in developing countries and areas that have inadequate environmental management. Infection occurs through ingestion of food and drinks contaminated with the bacterium. If exposed to the bacterium, cockroaches can spread the organism through their feces and vomit, contaminating surfaces and food.
Dysentery is a type of gastroenteritis that results in diarrhea with blood. Generally, most people suffer from mild symptoms and recover within a week or so without medical attention.
There are two types of dysentery. They are:
Bacillary dysentery: Sometimes referred to as shigellosis. It is caused by the Shigella bacteria.
Amoebic dysentery: Is caused by a single-celled parasite called Entamoeba. It is usually found in tropical areas.
Cockroaches, along with other insects, are suspected of being carriers of the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae which causes the disease leprosy.
Cockroaches are believed to spread the disease through their feces. Whilst the bacteria are not highly infectious, if left untreated, it can cause permanent damage to the skin, nerves, eyes, and skin which can lead to disfigurement and deformities.
Although it’s often thought to be a rodent-borne disease, cockroaches are also suspected of spreading the Yersinia pestis bacterium which is known to cause the bubonic plague.
Common symptoms of the bubonic plague include, but are not limited to:
- Swollen and painful lymph nodes.
- Muscle cramps
- High fever
People infected by the plague need to receive urgent treatment and sh
ould be given antibiotics 24 hours after infection to avoid severe consequences.
Campylobacteriosis is an infection caused by the Campylobacter bacterium. It is one the most common bacterial infections in humans and is a common foodborne illness. Researchers have isolated a Campylobacter jejuni subspecies in the gut contents and on the external surface of both American cockroaches and Oriental cockroaches.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It is usually contracted by consuming contaminated food and drink. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is an important public health problem in the United States.
How Do We Get Rid of them?
General preventive measures against household pests include keeping all food stored away in sealed containers, using garbage cans with a tight lid, frequent cleaning in the kitchen, and regular vacuuming. Any water leaks, such as dripping taps, should also be repaired. It is also helpful to seal off any entry points, such as holes around baseboards, in between kitchen cabinets, pipes, doors, and windows with some steel wool or copper mesh and some cement, putty or silicone caulk.
We need to do these preventive measures all the time because some cockroaches have been known to live up to three months without food and a month without water. They love to remain in a moist or warm environment, they are resilient enough to survive occasional freezing temperatures, this makes them difficult to eradicate once they have infested an area.
Cockroaches are among the hardiest insects on the planet. Some species are capable of remaining active for a month without food and are able to survive on limited resources like the glue from the back of postage stamps. Some can go without air for 45 minutes. Cockroaches are mainly nocturnal and will run away when exposed to light except for the Asian cockroach, which is attracted to light.
How did you deal with cockroaches in your surroundings? Your solutions or suggestion may help others who have been finding it difficult to eliminate cockroach totally in their surroundings. Feel free to make your contributions here, we will gladly want to hear from you.