While unavoidable in many parts of the southeast, nobody likes cockroaches. They’re sneaky, and they’re creepy. Worse yet they’re embarrasing if some guest sees that you have them in your home. They’re kind of the worst. And while mosquitos may be the deadliest animal in the world, cockroaches trigger a deep reaction from even hardened bug killers. And while it’s clear that they can make you feel sick, but can they actually make you sick?
Of the five thousand identified varieties, there are two that typically infest homes in the United States, the German cockroach and the Oriental cockroach.
“The vast majority of the other species of roaches throughout the world are of no real health risk to humans,” Bill Hastings, director of specialty services for Indiana-based Rose Pest Solutions, told Vice’s Tonic.
According to experts, cockroaches droppings or molted exoskeletons can trigger allergic reactions or asthma attacks.
The National Cooperative Inner-City Asthma Study found that thirty five percent of urban children with asthma had particulates on their skin related to an infestation. That study was conducted around twenty years ago, but subsequent studies have backed up the findings.
Cockroaches also carry bacteria and microscopic parasites on their bodies, and even inside of them. “The gut of the cockroach is a very rich community of thousands of species of bacteria, and some of these can be pathogenic,” Coby Schal, an entomologist at North Carolina State University, told Vice.
Roaches enjoy kitchens especially if there is stagnant water or food around, but one would have to consume actual cockroach bacteria (say, on a plate or in a glass) to get ill. The sickness would have similar symptoms to food poisoning.
The best way to avoid getting sick thanks to bacteria from the common roach is to make sure to hire a professional exterminator and keep your house clean after their work is done.