Are Cockroaches Dangerous Or Harmful To Humans and Pets?

If you have ever faced a problem of cockroaches in your home, you may have wondered whether these pests pose any threat. Despite being unwelcome visitors, cockroaches are a widespread issue in households. Here are some crucial points to keep in mind regarding your safety when it comes to sharing your living space with cockroaches. Let’s explore the potential dangers of cockroaches.

are cockroaches dangerous

There are several things that you should note if you have a cockroach infestation: 

  • They might bite
  • May aggravate allergies and/or asthma
  • They are considered carriers of bacteria that causes disease
  • Cockroaches can contribute to food-borne illnesses

Just like other living things, cockroaches have a lot of the same similar habits as the rest of us. They move around, eat, sleep, defecate, and grow. These habits can unfortunately cause many issues for humans if not cautious. However, with care and knowledge, each of the following issues can easily be avoided. 

Do Cockroaches Bite?

Cockroaches can bite. While it is extremely rare for this to occur, it can happen. When attacked, a cockroach’s natural defense mechanism is to curl into a ball or run away. However, in some cases, they can try to bite you if they feel attacked. Cockroaches may also bite humans while they are asleep. Typically, cockroaches are most active at night or when it is dark in a room. This can lead to cockroaches exploring and roaming your bed while asleep. Common areas where bites may occur include your hands and your feet. While both of these types of bite are uncommon, cockroaches do not have the ability to break a human’s skin, so you do not need to worry if you are bitten by one. 

Due to the nature of a cockroach’s habitat, they are commonly known for carrying around bacteria, microbes, and pathogens on their bodies that can be harmful to humans. As they grow as insects throughout their life and as they consume more contaminated waste, Cockroaches collect and spread these harmful bacteria and pathogens which can create problems for humans. 

Are Cockroaches Dangerous?

If you are someone that has spotted cockroaches in your home, you are probably wondering if these gross insects are dangerous to yourself, your family or your pets. Generally speaking cockroaches aren’t the most dangerous pest to have in your home, but there can be some scenarios where cockroaches are dangerous.

That being said, some species of roaches have the potential to be more dangerous than other species.

Allergies and Asthma

As cockroaches grow, like many other insects, they will shed their skin multiple times throughout their lives. They will either eat these skins, or leave them behind in your home. In theory, it is similar to how dust mites and pollen activate asthma and allergies. These left behind skins carry microbes that can both act as an allergen (if you happen to be allergic) and can aggravate a person with pre-existing asthma. Studies have shown that around 26% of people are sensitive to the German Cockroach Allergen (the most common type of cockroach found in homes). A typically allergic reaction to cockroaches could contain the following symptoms: Skin Rash, Coughing, Nasal Congestion, and Wheezing. It is estimated that around 63% of homes contain traces of Cockroach allergens. If you are susceptible to having allergies or have diagnosed asthma, sweet your hardwood floors regularly, and vacuum your carpets at least once a week to help with cockroach allergens. 

Food-borne Illness

The most common way that cockroaches spread disease is through food-borne illness. Cockroaches are omnivores, which means that they will eat nearly anything. While this includes real food, it also includes things such as other insects, other cockroaches,  their own skin that they shed, and their own fecal matter. This only compounds the bacteria and pathogens that cockroaches carry around with them, which will inevitably end up on any food that is left out around your house. This is known as contamination. Contamination occurs any time that a cockroach comes into contact with another object. Some easily contaminated objects around the home are: 

  • Cooking Utensils 
  • Silverware
  • Cooking Surfaces (stove, countertop, microwave)
  • Food that is left out or spoiled
  • Garbage

Consuming spoiled food from bacteria spread by cockroaches could result in the following illnesses: 

  • Salmonella 
  • Escherichia Coli (E-Coli)
  • Listeria Monocytogenes (Listeriosis)

Do Cockroaches Carry Diseases?

In addition to the microbes on a cockroaches skin, they can also carry pathogens that could lead to disease and sickness in humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that roaches can be considered carriers of several different diseases that affect humans such as dysentery, diarrhea, cholera and typhoid fever.

Roaches carry these pathogens in their saliva, skin, and their fecal matter. All three of those things will be left behind in various amounts as cockroaches move around your living area. Any place that they go, could become contaminated, and cause disease in humans. Cockroaches are known to carry at least 30 different types of bacteria and pathogens that can cause disease in humans. Most often, cockroaches are known for carrying disease that affect the human intestines such as dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid fever. 

How to Prevent Cockroaches

The easiest way to avoid the potential dangers of cockroaches is to keep your home clean and in good condition. Here are some easy things to avoid.

  • Do not leave out garbage waste or food that has spoiled. 
  • Clean any dark or damp areas within your home
  • Avoid having any areas of standing water in your home
  •  Maintain and repair your walls, ceilings, doors, and windows of any cracks or gaps that may occur. 
  • Clean, sweep, and vacuum regularly 

Check out our Guide on How to Prevent and Get Rid of Cockroaches Here

While cockroaches can pose a danger to humans, they should not be feared. Typically, these insects are more afraid of you and while their presence can be a pain, the chance of them causing you significant harm is still small. With careful consideration, cleanliness, and caution, the potential dangers of cockroaches can be minimized or even completely avoided. Should you find yourself with a cockroach infestation, reach out to a professional Pest Control Agency for further information and/or advice in removing them from your home. 

Resources:

https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef614

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