Cockroaches cause allergies

In a survey of allergists from across the United, 97% of respondents said they believe a pest-free* home is an important step in preventing asthma and allergy symptoms.

The survey, conducted jointly by the National Pest Management Association and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, revealed that aside from dust mites, cockroaches are the most problematic household pest for patients suffering from asthma or allergies. Rounding out the top three allergy-inflaming pests are rodents and stinging insects.

First reported back in the 1940s, cockroach allergies are most common urban areas. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates 23% to 60% of urban residents with asthma are sensitive to the cockroach allergen.

Cockroaches are one of the oldest and most adaptable pests Griffin Pest Services is called up to eliminate from homes. In Michigan customers are likely to encounter one of five species – German, Oriental, American, Brown-banded and Wood cockroach.

These disease carrying pests can be found both inside (German, Brown-banded) and outside (American, Oriental, Wood) structures and thrive when they have access to food, water and a dark, out-of-the-way harborage location.

A cockroach’s food tastes can be described accurately in one word – all-encompassing. Cockroaches eat just about anything including decaying matter such as food, garbage, feces and the like. They also enjoy strength in numbers; did you know a female German cockroach can produce over 30,000 little cockroaches in one year.

The allergens these filthy pests leave behind in homes linger in the air or settle in house dust. They become airborne when the air is stirred up by movement like children playing or running through the house.

Diagnosing to determine if a person with persistent asthma is allergic to cockroach can only be made by a skin test. A doctor will scratch or prick the skin with cockroach extract and if redness, an itchy rash or swelling appear then it is likely the person is allergic to cockroaches.

Griffin Pest Solutions has years of experience effectively eliminating cockroaches from homes and businesses. Based on our work in the trenches, we offer you the following Eight Simple Steps to Keeping Cockroaches out of your kitchen cupboards, laundry room, basement or pantry:

1. Cockroaches can sneak in with paper products, packaging and used appliances. Inspect bags or boxes of groceries brought into the home; remove clutter to make cleaning easier and to get rid of hiding places for cockroaches.
2. Regularly vacuum or sweep areas that might attract cockroaches.
3. Seal cracks and openings around or inside cabinets, caulk cracks along floors, add screens to floor drains, and paint cracks in cabinets to seal them.
4. Store food in sealed containers. Never leave food, crumbs or trash uncovered anywhere.
5. Clean up any food debris or spills right away; do not leave uneaten pet food to sit out overnight.
6. Dry up wet areas and repair leaky faucets or drains that create moisture.
7. Use trash cans with tight fitting lids. Avoid placing trash under the sink. Empty trash cans often. Put garbage in closed plastic bags.
8. If you live in an apartment or condominium, ask your neighbors to do what you are doing to their living areas to help keep cockroaches out.
If you have questions or concerns about pest allergens in your home and Griffin’s new Asthma and Allergy service, call or e-mail Griffin Pest Solutions at 888/547-4334 or callcenter@ for more information and a free estimate.

Mice – Prime Drivers of Asthma in Inner Cities

rat with cheese on a white backgroundAlthough it was long believed that cockroaches were the main driver of greater than average asthma occurrences in inner cities, it has recently been found that mouse allergens were the principal driver of severe asthma and other related outcomes. This has come to light after a recent study was conducted involving Baltimore children residing in urban areas.

The facts of the study

According to a study done by Elizabeth C. Matsui, MD,MHS and her colleagues of the John Hopkins Hospital, in the event of asthma affected children living in Baltimore being exposed to both critters, cockroach sensitization was associated with only broncho dilator reversibility and acute care visits. In contrast, mouse sensitization was connected with obstruction of the airways, inflammation of the airway, visits to the hospital for acute care, and broncho dilator reversibility. Matsui and her team have published the results in the October edition of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology magazine. The study states that the mouse allergen had no links with the cockroach allergen.

Matsui and her colleagues have cautioned, however, that this result may not be the same in all cities. Previous studies have shown that children are susceptible to mouse allergen more in New York, Chicago, and Boston. US cities with more cockroach allergens were New York and Chicago. Dust mites topped the list in Tucson and Seattle.

The team stated in the report that this study brings into prominence the importance of examining the applicable allergens for asthma related health at a community level. This is important because not all urban communities will possess identical allergen profiles as reported in various studies.

A different view

Dennis R. Ownby, MD, Georgia Regents University, Augusta has said that the study is provocative and urban communities are not the only ones who are susceptible to mice allergens. According to a national survey, allergy initiating mouse urine was detected in almost 82% of inner urban residences, with concentrations exceeding safe levels in about 35% of them.

A small study proved that a reduction of concentrations of mouse allergen also lessened the symptoms associated with asthma. Ownby also said that total eradication of mice can be very difficult. Mouse allergen deserves a better investigation for its role as one of the primary causes of asthma in urban residences. This should be done with the hope that better techniques of lessening allergen exposure to mice will be associated with reduced morbidity of asthma.

The researchers were united in the conclusion that their findings could assist interventions at the community level for localities with a greater than average asthma burden. In case of Baltimore, the metropolis would get the maximum benefit from targeting infestation of mice and also get extra benefit from targeting cockroaches as well.

Mouse Allergen and Asthma Cohort Study

The probable Mouse Allergen and Asthma Cohort Study included about 144 Baltimore City residents between 5 and 17 years of age. All of them had persistent asthma and clinical data available for the past 12 months. The demographic studied were mostly African-American, poorly educated and low income families. Many of them had asthma exacerbation in the past year. Simple skin prick examinations churned up positive results for mice in about 51% of the cases. Data for cockroaches and dust mites were 60% and 56% respectively.

For those sensitized, 41% were open to mouse allergen and the same percent were open to cockroach allergen. This figure rests on dust samples settled on the bedroom floor. After proper adjustment for serum total Immunoglobin-E (IgE) level, sex and age, exposure and sensitization to mouse allergen was involved with a higher incidence of acute care visits for greater levels of pulomonary inflammation and asthma. This was measured by a fraction of nitric oxide that is exhaled (P<0.01).

Sensitization and exposure to both the allergens were associated with more negative outcomes compared to either of them alone