German Cockroach
German Cockroach

Protect Your Health: Diseases Spread by Cockroaches

Cockroaches are associated with filth and poor hygiene. Cockroaches tend to harbor in areas that allow them to come in contact with numerous pathogens which are then transferred. Below is a look at several diseases spread by cockroaches.


The CDC estimates 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths are associated with salmonella each year. Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Cockroaches can have the salmonella bacteria in their stomachs for months and then spread the bacteria through their saliva and feces.


Shigellosis is a diarrheal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. CDC estimates Shigella causes about 500,000 cases of diarrhea in the United States each year. Cockroaches can spread Shigella by coming in contact with feces of a sick person and then spreading it onto items that we eat or drink.


Caused by a one-celled parasite called Entamoeba histolytica. It is most common in tropical areas with poor sanitary conditions. Cockroaches can spread Entamoeba histolytica by coming in contact with feces of a sick person and then spreading it onto items that we eat or drink.

Typhoid Fever

Per the CDC, Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. An estimated 5,700 cases occur each year in the United States. Up to 75% of the cases are acquired while traveling internationally. Cockroaches can spread the Salmonella Typhi by coming into contact with feces from infected people or carriers of the bacteria and transferring it onto items we eat and drink.


Per CDC, an estimated 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths occur each year around the world. Cholera is rare in the United States and mostly associated worldwide in areas of poor water treatment, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene. If cockroaches are exposed to the bacterium, they can spread it through their feces and saliva or by contaminating food or food surfaces.

E. Coli

Escherichia coli normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Cockroaches can spread the bacteria through contamination of food and drinks or by spreading it mechanically with their legs and exoskeleton.


Per the CDC, about 1600 people get listeriosis each year in the United States. Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by the germ Listeria monocytogenes. The disease primarily affects pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Cockroaches can spread Listeria monocytogenes by contaminating the food that we consume.


It is one of the most common diarrheal illnesses in the United States and is caused by Campylobacter bacteria. Most human illness is caused by one species, called Campylobacter jejuni. This species has been isolated by scientists in the gut contents and on the exoskeleton of Oriental and American cockroaches.

Staphylococcus aureus

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacteria that about 30% of humans carry in their noses. Most of the time staph does not cause any harm but in some situations can cause serious infections. Cockroaches are known to carry the bacteria on their exoskeleton and inside their digestive tracts.


Leprosy is an infection caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. The bacteria is very slow to grow and may take up to 20 years to show signs of infection. Per CDC, 150 to 250 people in the United States and around 250,000 people worldwide get the illness. Cockroaches are believed to spread the bacteria through their feces. Leprosy is not highly infectious and is not spread easily.

Asthma and Cockroaches

Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. Asthma can be controlled by taking medicine and avoiding triggers that cause an attack. Cockroaches can trigger asthma attacks due to certain proteins in their bodies which can be an allergen for certain individuals. Tiny cockroach particles that contain this protein can be spread through the air in buildings and when inhaled can trigger an attack in certain people.

If you have additional questions or would like additional assistance dealing with cockroaches at your home or business in East Tennessee, call Epituer Pest Solutions, LLC at 865-363-1155 or contact us online.

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