Cockroaches and their Link to Asthma

- National Pest Management Association
Monday, May 21, 2012

American CockroachMay is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. While you may have other preferred observances (National Cupcake Day, Women’s Heart Health Month, or even Bed Bug Awareness Week), this is a very important event. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 25.7 million people, including almost 7.1 million children, have asthma. I know first-hand how concerning asthma can be. I had exercise-induced asthma when I was young, and one of my daughters has asthma now.

For those who suffer from this disease, it’s important to understand its triggers. Many people are surprised to learn that insects are a common trigger of asthma attacks, especially cockroaches. If you are reading this and thinking "this does not apply to me because my house is too clean for cockroaches,” think again! Research has shown that more than 63% of American homes have detectable levels of cockroach allergens.  Ick!

I thought the last time I would have to think about cockroaches was in my college days. My sorority sisters and I would always get “great deals” on houses at the beach at the end of each school year. Unfortunately, we sometimes had extra roommates of the six-legged variety. I distinctly remember on many occasions flipping on light switches and seeing dozens of roaches scampering across the floor, tables, beds, and other surfaces. Had I known then what I know now, I might have insisted we each chip in a bit more for places that had proper pest control! (It’s not just the asthma related issues, but cockroaches spread nearly 33 kinds of bacteria including E. coli and Salmonella.) Apologies if you are reading this before - or worse, while - eating!

So in support of all the education that’s being offered this month on asthma and allergy awareness, I urge you to take a few minutes and learn a little about how to prevent cockroaches from becoming asthma triggers in your home. So much of protecting against pests involves eliminating sources of food, water, and shelter for bugs. In guarding against cockroaches, good housekeeping and good sanitation goes a long way!  

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