How Do Cockroaches Make You Sick?
When it comes to an infestation of cockroaches, this is one of those situations where we advise people to seek professional help immediately. A large infestation represents a very serious threat to the health of anyone in a building and has the potential to spread. But while almost everyone knows that cockroaches present a big health threat, few people stop to think about how that threat is delivered. Why does having a lot of cockroaches in a building run the risk of making people sick?
A “vector” is a term for the delivery of an illness to a person. Mosquitos, for example, are “direct vectors” in that the mosquito carries the virus or bacteria in its bloodstream, and transmits it directly into the bloodstream of a person when that person is bitten.
This is not how they work. Like mosquitos, cockroaches carry an alarmingly high number of illnesses without any threat of being affected. Diseases like salmonella, e. coli, leprosy, and even bubonic plague can be carried by cockroaches with no risk of sickness to the insect itself.
There are two ways that a cockroach can transmit an illness to a person. The first is simply by being around. For people that have a certain sensitivity to allergies, it’s possible that trace remnants of a cockroach such as parts of its body that it sheds or drops as it grows can cause allergic reactions in the same way that pollen in the air can.
The other, primary way that cockroaches transmit illness is through eating human food. This is why the presence of cockroaches are considered a major health violation at restaurants. When a cockroach nibbles on food, it leaves trace amounts of bacteria and viruses on that food. If a person then eats that same food, there’s a chance of infection.
This is why if you come into your kitchen and see cockroaches eating your plate of cookies or other foods, DO NOT EAT THEM. You’re taking a big risk.