20

There are a number of cockroaches in my wardrobe where I keep my clothes. I have noticed that the cockroaches haven't done any damage to my clothes. I haven't seen the need to get rid of the cockroaches. There is a common perception that living with cockroaches is unhealthy/harmful (see here, here, and here).

Is there any truth to that?

  • 5
    Welcome to skeptics. It's an interesting question, and I answered it, but when making a question, try to have a claim that needs to be proven right/wrong. In your case it would be a claim of living with cockroaches being completely okay. – Wertilq May 6 '13 at 11:46
  • Allegedly, properly farmed cockroaches can be eaten – Paul Aug 5 '15 at 10:30
6

YES it's unhealthy to live with cockroaches.

About cockroaches

Cockroach disease is something that many people are worried about when they see a cockroach in their home. Cockroaches are known to carry disease because they can live on just about anything, meaning they often live on unsanitary substances.

Cockroaches are potential carriers of disease.

Cockroach disease can affect humans. Cockroaches are known to carry diseases like dysentery, typhoid and poliomyelitis, as well as gastroenteritis. Cockroaches can live just about anywhere, and can live on fermenting products, septic dressings, hair, leather, wallpaper, feces, rotting food, and more.

Because many of the products that cockroaches feed on are spoiled or simply unsanitary, it's easy to see where cockroach disease comes from. Many of the substances that they feed on are already contaminated, and as the cockroach moves from one location to another it spreads the disease along the way.

Not only can people get sick from the diseases that cockroaches contaminate human living space with, many humans are allergic to cockroach feces. Of course, no one exposes themselves to cockroach disease and feces on purpose, but it can happen by inhaling particles of dust in the air that has been left behind by the cockroach.

Reason why they carry disease is that they eat all sorts of unsanitary things. This can then spread to humans, if they are living together with them. some people are also allergic to cockroach feces.

  • 12
    What is "cockroach disease"? The sole source you cite does not have any sources of its own to back up its claims, and appears it may be an advertisement for pest control in Vancouver. As such, I don't think it's a reliable source. – Reinstate Monica iamnotmaynard May 14 '15 at 17:22
  • 1
    In fact, that site is absolutely just an ad site (had to disable Adblock to see the ads plastered all over). – Reinstate Monica iamnotmaynard May 14 '15 at 17:25
  • That link now returns a "403 - Forbidden" message. – Reinstate Monica iamnotmaynard Sep 19 '16 at 2:48
  • Here's another copy: bugbustersegypt.com/cockroaches – Oddthinking Sep 20 '16 at 2:27
  • 2
    I note that the link is to a pest-control company, who obviously have a vested interest. – hdhondt Sep 20 '16 at 10:02
31

Cockroaches are a potential risk because they act as a vector for a number of diseases, bacteria, and other pathogens:

Cockroaches are arthropod transmitters of disease, acting both as mechanical vectors and as reservoirs of pathogenic agents. It has been shown that cockroaches harbor and transmit, both in nature and under experimental conditions, about 40 species of bacteria, including at least 25 from the Enterobacteriaceae group that cause gastroenteritis in man. In addition, it has been established that these insects are intermediate hosts of pathogenic helminths, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. It is possible that cockroaches contribute to the transmission of Chagas' disease by feeding on triatomine vectors of that disease. There also are signs that substances produced by cockroaches are involved in certain allergic processes. The foregoing facts are sufficient to justify the immediate control and eradication of these insects whenever and wherever they constitute a threat to public health. - Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

They eat just about anything, including carrion, feces, or box of cereal you didn't quite seal up, and in a household setting will likely find and feed upon any food items available. They frequently defecate near their food sources, so if you leave food out overnight (cockroaches are most active in the dark), and then handle or eat it, chances are good that you will come into contact with any pathogens that cockroach may have been exposed to.

If you have any sores, it is even possible that cockroaches could nibble on you while you're asleep!

  • 1
    Would a cockroach nibbling on a sore clean it? – yters Aug 6 '15 at 0:34
  • 2
    This should be the accepted answer, since it has a reliable source. – MEMark Apr 3 '17 at 9:08
-2

Yet given what we know today, logically it does not make sense to fear cockroaches. Unlike mosquitoes, ticks or fleas, roaches aren’t disease vectors, and they do not feed directly on our blood, skin or fluids. We don’t go screaming when we see a mosquito, even though they are the world’s deadliest animal.

BBC Future Article, 2014

  • dear SIMEL please follow the link supplied – Ian Glynn Perkins Apr 2 '17 at 12:48
  • @IanGlynnPerkins There are two reasons that links without quotes are discouraged: 1)Links die, meaning the information may not be available in the future 2)we can check that you at least somewhat correctly summarized the content. The link contains quite a lot of text, and few people will bother to read all of it to find the part that supports your claim. From looking over it, it seems to claim the opposite of what you state (they can transmit harmful and deadly bacteria and cause allergies). One conclusion is "[they] are more than just a source of irrational fear. They may be making us unwell" – tim Apr 2 '17 at 12:52
  • Welcome to Skeptics! Please provide some references to support your claims. The argument from that article is not backed by empirical research. – Oddthinking Apr 2 '17 at 15:43
  • 2
    In fact, the article says: "Several years ago, however, Koehler and one of his students helped prove that cockroaches could at least plausibly transmit harmful bacteria. Bacteria such as salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 – the deadly kind – can actually swim through the cockroaches’ waxy outer layers and survive there for at least two months, all the while posing a risk for being transferred to food. Bacteria can also survive a trip through a cockroach gut, so faeces scattered throughout a kitchen or home are like little land mines of potential disease." So the quote you give is cherry-picked. – Oddthinking Apr 2 '17 at 15:43
  • @SIMEL: It turned out all of the text was a quote. I've formatted it to avoid being seen as plagiarism. – Oddthinking Apr 2 '17 at 15:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .