A common question asked by people is, “Can cockroaches make you sick?” The answer is yes and no. It depends on the person and the specific cockroach infestation. People who are allergic to cockroaches often develop allergic reactions to roach protein, which can lead to asthma, skin rashes, and even shortness of breath.
While cockroach bites are not harmful, the bacteria they carry in their body can cause illness. A common example of food poisoning caused by cockroaches is salmonella. People who are infected with Salmonella may suffer from diarrhea and stomach cramps. Cockroaches may also spread pathogens from the environment to human food and surfaces.
Cockroaches also spread pathogens through their droppings. They can also cause asthma attacks due to their exoskeletons. In a study, 35 percent of children with asthma had skin particulate matter from cockroach infestation. Since cockroaches are omnivores, their droppings and exoskeletons carry a variety of bacteria. These bacteria may be pathogenic or non-pathogenic, depending on the species.
Asthmatic children who were exposed to cockroach allergens were more likely to miss school and miss nights of sleep. Those children also suffered from more unscheduled medical visits. Allergies to cockroach allergens can lead to asthma in people of all ages.