How do cockroaches and mice cause allergies?
Cockroaches and mice are mostly nocturnal, scavenging at night for food and water – and leaving behind trails of allergens that cause symptoms on contact or when inhaled. Cockroach allergens are believed to be feces, saliva and body parts; mice allergens are skin, saliva and urine.
These pests hide in cracks and crevices in homes and move freely from room to room or adjoining housing units via wall spaces, plumbing and other utility installations. Mice are capable of fitting through very small openings in floors, walls and foundations. Hundreds of cockroaches may live in a colony; if you see one, it’s a safe bet that more are lurking out of sight. Cockroaches prefer a moist, warm habitat because most are tropical in origin.
Allergen levels are usually highest on kitchen cabinets and floors, while moisture-laden bathrooms are secondary areas. Poorly contained food and garbage in kitchens is a well-known risk factor. The bedroom is another prime location for cockroaches, particularly in heavily infested homes.
How do you get rid of cockroaches and mice?
Entry into homes is often accomplished through small openings, food and beverage boxes, grocery sacks, animal food and household goods carried into the home.
The greater the number of people living in a dwelling, the higher the level of moisture and food that will be produced in that home and attract cockroaches. Poorly contained food and garbage is a well-known risk factor.
For cockroaches, look for dust clumps containing insect parts (cockroach nests), then vacuum or sweep problem areas at least every 2 to 3 days. The CDC also recommends using roach traps or gels to cut down on the number of cockroaches in your home.
The best way to remove mice from the home are mouse traps; place them against walls where mice often scurry as they search for food in your home.
For severe infestations, it may be best to call a professional exterminator.
Minor home improvements can improve your chances of keeping cockroaches and mice out.
- Repair leaky faucets.
- Caulk cracks or gaps around piping
- Improve ventilation to damp areas.
- Minimize trash kept in the house.
- Wash dishes immediately after use; dry and put away.
- Wipe down sinks and countertops.
- Keep countertops free of food.
- Store food in sealed containers or in the fridge.
- Never store wet sponges or dish rags under the sink.
- Use a lid on your trash bin; empty daily.
- Wash or rinse bottles and cans before putting in recycling. Store recycling outside.
- Throw away stacks of papers or brown bags – they’re perfect hiding places for cockroaches.
- Keep food out of bedrooms and family rooms; clean crumbs.
- Keep the laundry area clean and dry.
© 2021 Allergy and Asthma Network
Last updated : 12/11/2020