My cat was playing with a cockroach the other day, just one of the woods roaches that occasionally get in. Of course, I yelled at her (lots of good that did!) and removed
the dead cockroach from her mouth and threw it out. Is my precious Max in danger from sucking on a cockroach? Probably not, but there are concerns for us humans.
Cockroaches elicit a definite “ew”, a distinct “yuck”, and a pretty definitive “nope” from most people and for good reason. The conditions they are found in are nasty and disgusting. So it is these conditions, that humans provide for them, that are filled with decomposing food, mold, and potential pathogens. Obviously, people don’t want to see cockroaches in their homes or the restaurant they are eating in or their office. Seeing them means there is something unclean. That’s why sanitation is so important when it comes to managing cockroaches inside structures: if there is food, they will come!
A second concern is the diseases they can potentially spread. Unlike mosquitoes, cockroaches do not transmit diseases. Arthropods like mosquitoes, kissing bugs, and ticks will bite and inject a pathogen into people. Cockroaches on the other hand, merely pick up contaminated particles (like that cracker you dropped behind the refrigerator a year ago) and carry those to the next place they stop to rest. So those German cockroaches living behind the stove on the accumulated food droppings of the last five years will come out at night and visit the counter or dish cupboard. In doing so, they have also left behind some little crumbs containing E. coli, or maybe Listeria. As you prepare your morning cup of tea and scone, those little particles are now lurking on what you thought were clean dishes and counter.
For even more fun, let’s talk about cockroach droppings. Yep, we are talking about poop. As
disgusting as it is on its own, there’s more! A study that collected German cockroaches from a hospital found more than 170 bacterial isolates. This came from testing not only their outer skeleton, but also inside the guts of these cockroaches. And that was just bacteria! So if it’s on the inside of the gastric system, there’s a good chance it’s coming out.
I dealt with a particularly tricky infestation of cockroaches in a commercial bakery. Aside from the “yuck” factor and the disease issue, there’s also the food contamination issues; finding a cockroach baked into your bread is not like the prize in the cereal box. Sanitation was improved, treatments were started, a robust monitoring program was initiated. The issue improved yet there were still some cockroaches being seen and captured. Because of the monitoring, we were able to trace it to just a couple areas and found the motor housings of the mixers were still harboring a fairly significant population of insects. After disassembly, cleaning, and treating, the problem was finally eliminated.
This potential for disease transmission means cockroaches are more than just a revolting eyesore. They are a serious cause for concern if you are in a hospital, a restaurant, a home, or really anywhere. To find out more about how I can help you with cockroach issues, click here!