Do Cockroaches Carry Diseases? Unveiling the Health Risk

Spread the love

No one wants to see cockroaches in their home because when these nasty pests start to infest your house, it would be difficult for you to remove them. Besides creating a nuisance, cockroaches bring some health risks. You probably wondering now; do cockroaches carry diseases?

Cockroaches carry harmful diseases since they are a universal symbol of filth and bad hygiene. Due to their feeding and breeding behaviors, they transfer various dangerous germs, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. In this way, they contaminate your food and cause illness.

Want to know more about diseases caused by cockroaches? Stay in touch till the end of the article.

Why Do Cockroaches Transmit Diseases?

Cockroaches love garbage and debris, so waiting to take advantage of unfinished dishes or leftover food. Moreover, they are skilled feeders and nesters and make a colony within a week while accumulating harmful creatures.

They can move anywhere from small gaps and cracks to your sewerage system. Thus, they not only consume food, paper products, clothes, and other things, but they also eat human waste. Therefore, the spread of disease is caused by bacteria and germs all over them—inside and out.

Furthermore, if eating human waste isn’t bad enough, cockroaches will also emit partially digested waste and leave it behind. As a result, if you come into contact with cockroaches or their feces, you risk contracting dangerous infections.

What Diseases Can Humans Get from Cockroaches?

According to the Journal of Environmental Health Insights, cockroaches are one of the major causes of food-borne diseases and can transmit several harmful bacteria to humans. Here is the list of the most deadly diseases caused by roaches:


Salmonellosis is a disease caused by the infection of salmonella bacteria in humans and produces symptoms similar to food poisoning. Cockroaches carry this deadly bacteria by feeding on contaminated food and transmitting this pathogen to humans via feces or droppings.

The symptoms of salmonellosis appear after 12 to 72 hours of infection and result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. You can be recovered from this disease in four to seven days with proper care and medications.

Typhoid Fever

It is another harmful disease caused by the bacteria, Salmonella typhi, and cockroaches carry this disease by eating contaminated feces. Unclean water and poor sanitation are the most common reasons for typhoid fever. The symptoms of typhoid fever include; high-grade fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, and stomach ache.

Hence, if you experience any of the above symptoms, take immediate medical care.


It is a diarrheal infection caused by Vibrio Chloerae bacteria. If a cockroach is exposed to the bacteria, it will transmit this disease through its droppings. Although the symptoms of cholera don’t appear in many infected people, some get severe vomiting and diarrhea. 


Dysentery is another life-threatening disease that results in bloody stools. Poor hygiene and ingesting contaminated food and water are the two main reasons for dysentery. Common symptoms include bloody stools, stomach ache, nausea, vomiting, and high-grade fever.


Leprosy is another disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae. Cockroaches will get this bacteria and transmit the disease through their droppings. Even though this disease is not harmful, if you don’t treat it, it may permanently damage your skin, nails, and eyes.


You may probably think that plague is due to rodents, but do you know you may get this deadly disease through cockroaches? Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that causes the plague, is spread through cockroach droppings or excrement. The most common symptoms of the plague; are painful lymph nodes, muscle cramps, high-grade fever, and chills.


It is one of the most common bacterial infections in humans caused by the bacteria Campylobacter. You may get this disease through drinking contaminated milk and poorly cooked meals. Symptoms include bloody stools, stomach aches, and fever.


According to the American Society for Microbiology, listeriosis is caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes which causes severe infection. It usually infects people having weak immune systems, such as pregnant women, diabetic patients, infants, and the elderly. The common symptoms include high temperature, muscle cramps, and diarrhea.

Respiratory Problems

Asthma is the most common respiratory issue caused by cockroaches. Cockroaches have specific proteins that are allergic to many people and cause asthma attacks. Sensitive individuals may experience an asthma attack after inhaling small cockroach body particles dispersed throughout the air in buildings.

E.coli Infection

Escherichia coli is a lethal bacteria that results in gut infection. Although severe bacterial infection may result in food poisoning, the most common symptoms include; fever, chills, muscle cramps, stomach aches, and diarrhea.


It is a disease caused by Entamoeba histolytica. Amoebiasis occurs when a person touches or ingests contaminated food. Although it’s a deadly infection, only 10 to 20% of people show the symptoms. Severe amoebiasis may result in Amoebic dysentery that causes stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cockroach Disease?

Cockroaches are more than nuisance creatures that creep across your kitchen floor at night. They can cause severe allergic reactions. Cockroach droppings, feces, and saliva all trigger asthma and other diseases. Almost 63% of homes in the U.S. have cockroach allergies.

Although an allergist can diagnose cockroach disease, below are some symptoms that may help you to evaluate a cockroach disease:

Apparent Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Nasal congestion
  • Rashes on skim
  • Ear or throat infection
  • Wheezing
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea, Vomiting, Nausea

How Do You Diagnose Cockroach Disease?

Your doctor may conduct a physical assessment and enquire about your symptoms to determine whether you are allergic to cockroaches. If he suspects you have a cockroach allergy or disease, he might recommend a skin prick test or a particular IgE blood test. Moreover, if the symptoms of cockroach allergies persist for a long time, you may have cockroach disease.

How Do Cockroaches Transmit Disease?

Cockroaches employ different methods to transfer disease since they are the source of disease-causing organisms rather than disease-carrying vectors. Here are some ways through which cockroaches transmit diseases:


Due to unhygienic eating habits, cockroaches can spread lethal bacteria through feces or droppings. When the cockroach poops on something humans eat, bacteria may enter it and ultimately into the human’s digestive system.


Cockroach saliva is another way to spread disease. Just like droppings or feces, saliva may contaminate your food and water. Thus, you can develop an allergy or cockroach sickness by eating contaminated food.

Direct Interaction

As cockroaches love to hide in drainage pipes and garbage cans, they can interact with several bacteria that may attach to their body. As a result, when cockroaches touch or pass through anything they become infected.

How Can You Get a Disease From Cockroaches?

Though you can get a disease from cockroaches when you come in contact with anything that cockroaches contaminate, below are some common ways that result in illness.

Through Cockroach Bites

Cockroach bites are one of the fastest ways to get a disease. Even though cockroaches don’t bite frequently, they crawl on your body at night and bite you, while doing so. Initially, you may not get a symptom, but if the cockroaches bite you frequently, you may get an illness.

Ingesting and Consuming Tainted Food

Ingesting or eating contaminated food is the most common way to get any illness. As cockroaches contaminate your food with their droppings or feces, you may get sick as you eat the tainted food.

Exposure to Contaminated Air

If you inhale air contaminated with harmful proteins from cockroach feces, hair, and droppings, you may trigger an allergic reaction, especially asthma.

Touching Tainted Objects

Another way to get cockroach disease is to touch a contaminated object. If you pick up items infected with cockroach droppings and then scroll your hand on your eyes, mouth, and nose, you may get a severe skin or allergic reaction.

Treatment of Cockroach Diseases

If you think you are suffering from a cockroach disease or allergy, seek medical advice from the doctor. Your doctor may conduct a skin test to evaluate cockroach disease. For this, he applies a diluted allergen to your skin, and after waiting for 15 minutes, he observes any reaction like rash, inflammation, and redness of the skin.

Above all, if a reaction occurs, your doctor may prescribe medications or allergy shots to prevent your body from a severe allergic reaction.

How to Avoid Diseases from Cockroaches?

Prevention is the best cure for any disease. One of the best ways to prevent cockroach diseases is to stop their entry into your home or property. To stop the entrance of cockroaches into your home, follow the below tips.

Quick Tips

  • Firstly, clean your home regularly so that cockroaches don’t find anything to eat.
  • Maintaining your hygiene by wash hands frequently will keep roaches away.
  • Moreover, f you have any leakage of water, fix it immediately.
  • As cockroaches can pass through tiny holes or gaps, close them using caulk to prevent their entry.
  • Above all, ask for help from a professional pest control company.


Can You Get Sick from a Cockroach in Your House?

Yes, you may get sick from cockroaches in your house. As they are the source of lethal bacteria or pathogens that spread diseases, you may get cockroach disease after consuming food contaminated with roach droppings, saliva, and feces.

What Happens If a Cockroach Bites You?

If a cockroach bites, you may get small, swollen, red lumps on your skin. Moreover, you may get a severe allergic reaction due to a cockroach bite. It may cause anaphylaxis, shortness of breath, skin rashes, and localized edema or swelling.

Are Roaches Harmful to Humans?

Yes, cockroaches may harm you by causing severe diseases like dysentery, cholera, and typhoid fever. Furthermore, cockroaches are one of the potential sources to trigger asthma because they have a protein that speeds up an allergic reaction.

Is It Safe to Sleep Around Roaches?

No, it is not safe to sleep around roaches in your house. Cockroaches in the home are a health danger because they can transmit disease-causing microorganisms and risks to asthmatics from cockroach antigens. Therefore, you should avoid sleeping around roaches.

Will You Get Sick If a Cockroach Touches You?

Yes, if you touch a cockroach, you may be at risk of getting serious diseases like dysentery, amebiasis, and cholera. It may be due to the presence of harmful pathogens in their body. You risk getting sick as soon as you touch anything covered in roach droppings.

Summing Up

Cockroaches are highly adaptable and lethal pests that transmit harmful diseases like cholera, plague, typhoid fever, dysentery, and respiratory issues. You may get all these illnesses by consuming anything contaminated with cockroach droppings or feces.

The best way to prevent cockroach diseases is to keep away roaches from your home or property by proper cleaning and maintaining good hygiene. Hopefully, the above information will you to know everything about cockroach diseases and how to treat them.

Above all, if you get any severe symptoms of a roach disease, don’t treat it yourself. Consult your doctor and stay alive and kicking.


Donkor ES. Cockroaches and Food-borne Pathogens. Environ Health Insights. 2020 Apr 30;14:1178630220913365. doi: 10.1177/1178630220913365. PMID: 32425541; PMCID: PMC7218330.