Do Cockroaches Carry Disease?

Cockroaches are garbage loving mess-magnets, always ready and waiting to take advantage of a busy weekend and dishes left undone. Master feeders and efficient nesters, most roach species can establish whole colonies in a matter of weeks, gathering a range of nasty organisms along the way.

Some of them are very dangerous to humans. As they crawl over benchtops and nibble at food, cockroaches transmit pathongenic elements to things we’ll handle or touch, increasing the likelihood of transmission. It can be hell for any household, but businesses suffer the most, as cockroach diseases can impact staff, customer and even patient health, if the building happens to be a hospital. Not to mention food safety challenges for hospitality brands!

How bad are diseases transferred by imported and Australian cockroach species? It all depends on the roach you run into, where they’ve been and the pathogens they’ve been exposed to on their travels.

Cockroaches can pass on the following infections and diseases:

  •         Salmonellosis
  •         Campylobacteriosis
  •         Listeriosis
  •         E. coli infections
  •         Typhoid fever
  •         Cholera
  •         Dysentery
  •         Leprosy
  •         Plague
  •         Asthma

How do cockroaches transfer disease?

Cockroaches transmit infections using their feet, legs, bodies and mouths. They also communicate ugly pathogens via their droppings and by vomiting on the countertops we lean against or the food we eat. When it comes to leaving their potentially infectious mark, they’re highly efficient. Let’s take a closer look at each vehicle:

Cockroach droppings

Cockroach poop is extremely unsanitary, much like the bug themselves. When a roach hoes into decaying food or rotten raw meat, they ingest a bunch of organisms as well – these organisms would make any human sick, but cockroaches either store it away in their digestive system or excrete it in the form of poop. Every time you see cockroach poop, picture a bout of food poisoning staring back at you.

Cockroach saliva

Most cockroach disease can be found in roach saliva. Instead of making it to the digestive tract, pathogenic nasties stick around in cockroach salvia, contaminating anything and every that it happens to touch. And roaches spit a lot.

Bodily transfer

Sewers, cesspits, drains and bins are bacterial and viral red zones. There’s a reason why we wear protective gloves and clothes when we’re dealing with waste! Cockroaches, on the other hand, live in sewers, they camp out in bins and they love drains. They’re constantly surrounded by all matter of diseases and carry infectious bacteria around on their bodies like a backpack. When a cockroach crawls over you at night, he’s bringing the whole sewer with him…

How do you contract a cockroach infection?

Inhalation: Does your home or office smell of roaches? They’ve released bacteria and infectious proteins into the air.

Digestion: Eating food and drinking water contaminated by roach filth. Maybe they didn’t touch your food… just your fork, knife or plate!

Cross-Contamination: Touching an object, surface or food that has come into contact with cockroach poop, vomit or saliva, and then wiping your eyes or eating a burger with your fingers.

How can you stop roaches spreading disease?

Cleaning is our number one recommendation, aside from booking in a professional pest spray to eradicate roaches for good. The moment you give your house or business a thorough once over, it becomes less appealing to the silent colony living in your walls and drains. Give floors, surfaces, sinks, drains, cooking utensils, cutlery and crockery a regular scrub – it’s a good idea to give anything you’re going to eat from a wash before and after, eliminating any leftovers before cockroaches have the slightest chance to do their work.

Speaking of keeping it clean, wash your hands! Think about everything you touch day to day – where has it been, who else has touched it and what have they been exposed to? By neglecting basic hand hygiene, you’re sharing everybody’s germs, in addition to your own. Give your fingers and palms a soapy soak before, during and after food preparation; after going to the bathroom; before and after eating and especially following handling germ-prone objects or materials, like bins and money.

Seal cracks and gaps

Reduce the likelihood of cockroaches finding a way in by taking a slow walk around your building or home, identifying any cracks and guilty gaps that may serve as a cockroach highway. Make sure to seal any crevices with an expanding foam and regularly look for any changes or new entry points. Damaged pipes and drains act as an accidental beacon – they’re wet, moist and draw humidity, making them perfect inroads for cockroaches. Fix any damaged pipes as soon as possible.