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If you have cockroaches in your home, they are not only a pest but are a health hazard because of the risks posed by cockroach antigens to asthma sufferers, and further because they can carry disease-causing germs along with some of the methods traditionally used to eliminate them can cause additional health hazards if not treated with the correct applications.

These are four steps that I will break down about cockroaches and their health risks and how to prevent them:

1.  Health Impact
2.  Reducing Your Exposure
3.  Prevention
4.  Elimination

Health Impact

As the common belief is that cockroaches are dirty insects and having them in your home or any environment it’s traditionally understood that they are dirty and having them is a sign of an untidy and dirty home etc. The truth is that a cockroaches’ personal hygiene practices are actually pretty good, it’s just the bacteria that the harbour within them is where they can transmit or carry various pathogens.

Cockroaches are generally controlled because they are unsightly, offensive can leave behind an awful smell, and can cause gastrointestinal and respiratory illness. However, further research indicates that cockroach debris (old shells, shed skins, their saliva, body parts, and droppings) does trigger asthma attacks in people who are sensitized to the cockroach antigen (an antigen are proteins found in this debris). In homes or environments where several allergens are present, including dust mites, mould, domestic pets, tobacco smoke, and certain chemicals, some children and adults may experience severe and frequent asthma attacks from high airborne concentrations of these allergens.

Cockroaches normally carry a bacteria called Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can be transmitted to humans. They can also spread the Salmonella bacteria which leads to diseases such as food poisoning or even typhoid.

Because young children spend more time indoors, allergens found in homes and other buildings pose a significant health risk for asthma sufferers. With asthma rates growing at a startling rate, the hazard posed by the presence of any cockroaches must be addressed.

Reducing Your Exposure

Any home or facility can have cockroaches within it. However, there are preventative measures you can take to stop cockroaches from becoming a problem in your home; identify the extent of and solutions to any potential cockroach problem, and reduce or eliminate cockroach problems.


General maintenance, good housekeeping and cleaning practices are important because following these practices removes the food, water, and shelter on which cockroaches depend on to live and breed, and by blocking the entrances cockroaches use to get into housing further prevents them entering your premises. There are various steps tenants, landlords, and homeowners can take individually and jointly to prevent cockroach infestation of the home environment.

• Wipe down and clean counters, tables, and stoves/ ovens after all meals, snacks, and food preparation areas
• Keep food confined to specific areas of the house, along with keeping open foods in closed sealed containers, remember to clean any spills immediately.
• Keep all garbage in tightly sealed containers, and do not allow refuse to accumulate too much.
• Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink, on the counter, or in the dishwasher overnight. Keep plugs in the socket if you go away for prolonged periods to prevent their entry through the drain pipes into ones sink.
• Fix leaky pipes, toilets, and other plumbing problems, as well as leaking roofs.

• Remove all unused boxes, cardboard, newspapers, etc. from both inside and around the home. Cockroaches can both live in the boxes or the corrugation of the box material and further eat these materials.
• Remove all and any other clutter as well to eliminate shelter and hiding places for cockroaches.
• Seal all cracks and crevices throughout the home around systems such as plumbing and electrical including in areas such as cupboards and walls.

All of the above points fall part of integrated pest management techniques that control cockroaches, but in saying that it can at the same time also help to minimize exposure to other environmental hazards. For example, controlling moisture by fixing leaks and drying up spills can also help prevent exposure that can lead to mould.


The goal at the end of the day is to keep cockroaches out of one’s home or business. And when necessary, to eliminate those cockroaches that are there, as safely as possible. Achieving this can sometimes be challenging, especially in multi-unit housing that is heavily infested, notably blocks of flats, apartments or even hostels that house staff or students. For most apartment buildings, the landlord must take a building-wide approach to assist in controlling cockroaches to start with. Normally, it will take a coordinated effort from the landlords, the tenants and the pest control technician to eliminate cockroaches. Getting the landlord and tenants support and cooperation can sometimes be difficult and can take the use of compelling evidence, such as a monitor trap full of cockroaches coupled with a count of the number of cockroaches.

The initial actions residents and landlords can take are regular cleaning and maintenance efforts to remove the food, water, and shelter for the cockroaches, along with ensuring correct stacking and proofing practices are followed. Not only will this help to prevent a cockroach problem in the first place, it is also crucial to controlling an existing infestation and maintaining a cockroach-free environment.

If a cockroach problem requires remedial action, there are numerous paths of control and products available that we can implement in the form of an integrated pest management programme. These include various gel bait formulas, monitoring traps for high activity areas to aid in effective corrective actions are undertaken at breeding spots, along with the use of Pyrethroid based spray applications. These sprays are of course used cautiously and are registered to be applied in residential or commercial areas.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

• IPM uses a combination of common-sense practices, information on the life cycles of the pests in question and their interaction with the environment, and available pest control methods as mentioned above.
• In general, an IPM approach is the use of modes of pest control that are less harmful to people and the environment (such as gel baits and glue traps) before considering more drastic measures (such as spraying pesticides).
• IPM presents the least possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.
• IPM is effective, economical, and environmentally sensitive

Flick is here to provide a solution for any cockroach infestation you may encounter. Give us a ring or be in touch on our website or drop us a comment on our blog or social media platforms. | 011 444 1033

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