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Why Cockroaches Are a Real Danger

As urbanites, most of us Singaporeans have developed an aversion towards cockroaches. But this aversion is very real: we have strong reason to fear these nightmares. Fuelled by their well-balanced diet – including faeces, toe nails and even fellow (dead) cockroaches – they carry a range of infectious diseases wherever they crawl.

Cockroaches pose a real danger to you, your family and the community. The nasty diseases they spread are harmful to human health and yes, these diseases could even be possibly present in modern day Singapore.

In this article, we discuss 4 diseases spread by these nasty critters. These are the reasons why you need not apologise for your phobia of cockroaches:

1. Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of one’s gastrointestinal tract, which includes the stomach and the small intestine. Also known as ‘stomach flu’, its symptoms are universally known and loathed: diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, fever and stomach ache. There are incidents as well where gastroenteritis starts with fever and dehydrations.

Unsurprisingly, cockroaches are known to carry a range of organisms that can cause this inflammation. This is largely due to their filthy habitat and attraction to faecal matter. Typically, these organisms are spread through their own faeces or via direct contact with one’s food.

It’s also important to keep a hygienic environment on places where you keep and prepare your food. Washing your hands thoroughly before touching or preparing your meals can help prevent gastroenteritis. Basically, a clean surroundings lead to a clean intestines.

2. Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. As its name suggests, the main symptom is high fever that can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius. Other symptoms include weakness, headache and a loss of appetite.

As with the other diseases, cockroaches can carry the culprit bacterium. While antibiotics are the most effective treatment to date, there is growing resistance to multiple types of antibiotics used to treat typhoid fever. This reduced effectiveness can prolong a victim’s fever for weeks –or even months!

3. Cholera

An infection of the intestine, cholera is characterised by profuse water diarrhoea. While usually mild, this disease can sometimes be very severe, causing rapid loss of body fluids. Subsequently, this can lead to dehydration, shock and even death within hours.

Typically, a person contracts cholera by consuming food or water contaminated with the cholera bacterium. This can happen if cockroach faeces are dropped into one’s food or water sources.

4. Salmonellosis

Caused by a bacteria of the Salmonella type, Salmonellosis is also one of the diseases that cockroaches can carry. This is similar to food poisoning. Since roaches transport mostly to things that we intake like food and beverage, it's no doubt that these pests can bring this disease into your homes.

Common symptoms of salmonellosis include diarrhoea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. This typically occurs half to three days after exposure with symptoms lasting four to seven days.

Deny the Diseases

When it comes to fear factor, these tiny and fast-moving nightmares put clowns to shame. It’s even been said that everyone in the room is an adult – until the cockroach starts flying. But cockroaches are no joke. There are various ways of preventing them from coming into your home. Read more on 5 cockroach facts and how to keep them away.

You can begin by making sure that you store dry goods in tightly sealed containers and do not leave it in an open space. If there are wastes, disposed it properly into bins. It's also best to keep your place organized and de-cluttered. In this way, your house will not invite these roaches. But most importantly, get a regular inspection by experts in pest control.

But given that cockroaches carry a wide range of organisms that can cause so many diseases, it is better to err on the side of caution. The main goal is to keep a cockroach-free residence. Among the basic steps that you can do is regular cleaning and maintenance to remove food and liquid waste. It prevents inviting these roaches and it also clears up if there is existing infestation in your home.

There are also numerous products available if the problem already needs remedial action. But it's best to have a professional team to do it to avoid exposure to pesticides because these chemicals can be a carcinogenic health hazard in the home. Some pesticides, when used incorrectly, can also trigger asthma attacks and can cause developmental disabilities.

If a cockroach infestation has already set in, it’s best to enlist a professional pest control expert immediately. This is the best way to reduce any spread of illnesses or diseases.