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Cockroaches: The Little Known Culprits That Trigger Asthma Attacks and Allergies

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The National Pest Management Association warns families that cockroaches are a leading trigger of allergies and asthma attacks. The pests’ saliva, droppings, and decomposing bodies contain allergen proteins known to trigger allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms, especially in children.

“Most people are aware of typical indoor allergens, including mold, pet dander, dust, and second-hand smoke, but they should also be mindful of any cockroach infestations in their home or other places, such as schools,” says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA. “Cockroach allergens are typically found in areas that are hard to see, such as under appliances and sinks, so it’s important to periodically check those areas, keeping them clean and dry.”

The NPMA recommends these tips to prevent cockroaches from infesting your home:

  • Seal cracks around the outside of the home to prevent pest entryways.
  • Vacuum frequently and dispose of garbage regularly.
  • Keep counters and floors clean and free of crumbs that attract pests.
  • Pay extra attention to kitchens and bathrooms – especially under appliances and sinks – as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach infestations.
  • If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.

To learn more about cockroaches and the health threats they pose, or to find a licensed pest professional, visit pestworld.org.  

This article was originally published in Coping® with Allergies & Asthma magazine, July/August 2011.