In addition to being unsightly pests, cockroaches can also be a health hazard. When an infestation occurs, the presence of cockroaches in large numbers increases the dangers presented by these insects.
Because they are drawn to human food, cockroaches are a cause of food contamination. Cockroaches both defecate and regurgitate on the food that they eat. While this is disgusting on its own, it also spreads bacteria and parasites that may be living inside of them. Some of the dangers of cockroaches in this regard include bacterial infections. A bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa is particularly found in cockroaches and can be transmitted to humans. The Salmonella bacteria can also be spread by cockroaches, where it can cause diseases ranging from food poisoning to typhoid.
Another health risk of cockroaches is allergic reactions. Cockroaches are one of the most common allergens reported, with studies finding anywhere from 20 to 60 percent of urban residents presenting with cockroach allergies. These symptoms can range from itching and redness to severe asthma.
Some of the more unpleasant dangers of cockroaches involve close encounters with humans. Cockroaches are omnivores that will eat anything that does not get away. Unfortunately, this sometimes includes humans. There have been cases where cockroaches have preyed upon humans–usually those too old, young, or sick to brush them away. In these circumstances, cockroaches This is highly unlikely to happen, though it has been seen in cases of abuse or poverty.
Another disturbing, though unlikely, health risk of cockroaches in close contact with humans is that of entering body cavities. This is another extremely unlikely event, though it has been seen when infestations are particularly bad. Cockroaches usually leave humans alone, though when enough of them are gathered in one place they will venture out where they would not ordinarily go. Young cockroaches have been reported to crawl over sleeping humans and crawl inside of ears, nostrils, and open mouths.
Between disease, injury, and disgust, there are any number of reasons to keep cockroaches out of homes. In order to keep an infestation from occurring, proactive prevention is necessary, and in cases when an infestation does occur a licensed pest control professional should be called to eliminate the problem.