Cockroach and Mice Infestations
What Is Cockroach Allergy?
When most people think of allergy “triggers,” they often focus on plant pollens, dust, animals and stinging insects. In fact, cockroaches also can trigger allergies and asthma.
Now we know that the frequent hospital admissions of some children & adults with asthma often is directly related to their contact with cockroach allergens—the substances that cause allergies. From 23 percent to 50 percent of urban residents with asthma are sensitive to the cockroach allergen.
Children these days play indoors more than in past years and thus have increased contact with these type of allergens.
Reducing Cockroach Allergen in the home
If you have cockroach allergy, avoid contact with roaches and their droppings.
- The first step is to rid your home of the roaches. Because they resist many control measures, it is best to call in pest control experts.
- For ongoing control, use poison baits, boric acid and traps. Don’t use chemical agents. They can irritate allergies and asthma.
- Do not leave food and garbage uncovered.
Mice excrete urinary allergens that are carried on particles that readily become airborne. It is estimated that many homes in India have detectable mouse allergen levels. It is estimated that 18–30% of urban children and youth can be sensitized to mouse allergen. Sensitization to mouse allergen is less common in rural and suburban areas.
For children who already have a diagnosis of asthma, mouse sensitization and exposure are associated with increased hospitalizations, increased respiratory symptoms, decreased lung function, and increased airways inflammation.
Integrated pest management (IPM) (extermination, vigorous cleaning, meticulous food disposal, and sealing of holes and cracks in housing structures) is the best approach to mouse allergen reduction. In one study, this approach resulted in a 75% reduction of mouse allergen levels in settled dust, whereas levels increased in the control group. A reduction in mouse allergen levels by at least 50% has been associated with reductions in missed school, fewer days of decreased activity, and fewer nights of sleep loss for caretakers among mouse-sensitized inner-city children, suggesting that IPM may benefit mouse-sensitized children with asthma.