COCKROACH BORNE DISEASES: SALMONELLOSIS
There are so many reasons to hate cockroaches. Perhaps the most reviled creatures among all of God’s creations, cockroaches – at least those that live in or around our homes – have the aesthetic features of tiny monsters crawling around us. They even have this nasty habit of crawling on you or flying over you, making it seem like they are really out to get each and every human being. And when you slap them silly and think they are dead, well surprise! A few minutes later they would be right back on track as if trying to kill them only made them stronger.
They do not care about being clean. In fact, they thrive in filth, They eat anything, from rotten food, decaying meat, dead animals, human and animal excrement, and anything that is in your garbage. Due to this nasty habit of theirs, cockroaches naturally would carry with them all the dirt, plus bacteria and viruses in and on their bodies. This also means they get to accumulate plenty of pathogenic organisms which they transmit to food and other surfaces that touch food each time they crawl and eat. Cockroaches are therefore transmitter of diseases. Cockroaches are known to transmit diseases like Campylobacteriosis, E. Coli infections, cholera, dysentery, Typhoid fever, leprosy, asthma, and salmonellosis.
What is even more frustrating about it is that it is so difficult to get rid of the roaches; they do not die easily. Cockroaches are hardy insects. They can live without food for a month and without water for a week. It can even live for up to a week with its head cut off. They have been around for 300 million years, and will probably be around for 300 million years more.
How do cockroaches spread diseases?
Cockroaches spread diseases in many ways: through their urine, droppings, vomit, and transfer through their feet and other body parts.
When a cockroach eats something unsanitary, like feces or rotten meat, pathogenic organisms will enter their bodies and may stay inside their digestive system. It may even become dormant there. When the cockroach defecates, their droppings can contaminate food or surfaces that are in contact with food.
Urine, vomit, and saliva work similarly. Food can get contaminated when it gets in contact with the pathogens from these.
The cockroaches’ legs can easily pick up bacteria and viruses. Cockroaches love to live in sewers, drains, cesspits, and garbage bins. That is why anything that the cockroaches crawl on become contaminated.
Humans usually get diseases by eating and drinking food and drinks that are contaminated by cockroaches. Another way is by eating and drinking food using kitchen utensils that are contaminated by cockroaches.
One of the diseases we can get from cockroaches is called salmonellosis, a very common intestinal infection in the United States.
What is salmonellosis and how common is it?
Salmonella causes salmonellosis. No, it is not seafood, which is what I thought it was when I first heard about it. Salmonella is a bacteria that are dangerous because it causes food poisoning. When cockroaches crawl in dirty places, they accumulate Salmonella, which would remain in their digestive system for about a month. This would then be transferred then expelled through their droppings and vomit.
Salmonellosis is one of the most common gastrointestinal infections in the United States. This disease is more common in summer than in winter. Young children are more highly to get this illness than adults. It is estimated that Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, and of this number, there are 450 deaths annually in the United States. Food is the number 1 source.
If you are thinking that its name was derived from that freshwater fish that is full of Omega-3 fatty acids, then you missed the mark. The bacteria was actually named after Daniel Elmer Salmon, a U.S. veterinarian. It has been known to cause illnesses for 125 years now.
Signs and symptoms
People who are infected with Salmonellosis develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. This develops after 12 to 72 hours after infection. Salmonellosis usually resolves by itself; most patients recover after 4 to 7 days even without treatment. For elder patients, infants, and those with compromised immune systems may develop complications and might need further health care. Some people may have the infection spread beyond the intestines to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. This is when Salmonella becomes fatal if not given the proper treatment. Salmonella may cause lasting symptoms as well, like pain in urination, joint pain, and eye irritation.
If you have these symptoms, seek medical care when your fever is higher than 100 degrees F, diarrhea that lasts for 3 days and has not seen any improvements, stools, and an extended period of vomiting that causes you to dehydrate.
Diagnosis and treatment
Salmonellosis is diagnosed when laboratory tests detect the bacteria Salmonella in a person’s stool sample, body tissue, urine, or blood. Once Salmonella is found in the sample, further testing may be done to further identify the Salmonella.
Laboratory scientists do this by propagating microorganisms in the patient’s sample. If the Salmonella bacteria grows, then that confirms the diagnosis. After that, the test results will then be forwarded to the treating clinician and submit the Salmonella isolates to the state public health laboratories for stereotyping and DNA fingerprinting. Stereotyping, by the way, is grouping within a single species of microorganisms that share distinctive structures. They will then submit the results to the Center for Disease Control’s Enteric Disease Surveillance. Additional confirmation will be done by the National Salmonella Reference Laboratory.
Salmonellosis usually resolves on its own, so patients do not need further treatment. For patients with severe illness, antibiotics are given. Because diarrhea is present, patients should drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration. If the diarrhea is so severe, it may be required of the patient to seek medical care. If the Salmonella infection spread to the bloodstream, antibiotics should be given, otherwise, death may occur.
How can we prevent salmonellosis?
Salmonellosis can be a life-threatening illness if not treated properly. Let us simply prevent it from afflicting us and our families by following these tips:
- Avoid eating undercooked food, meat in particular. Use a food thermometer to check for proper temperature and that it is already cooked.
- Do not eat raw eggs and raw milk. Avoid eating foods that contain raw eggs and milk.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, rubbing both hands vigorously. Also, wash kitchen utensils and surfaces that get into contact with food often. Wash immediately if they come into contact with raw meat. This helps prevent cross-contamination.
- If you have diarrhea, do not handle food that would be eaten by people other than yourself.
- Separate raw foods from cooked foods.
- Remember to wash raw fruits and vegetables under running water before you eat them.
- Always wash your hands before touching any food.
- During summer, be sure to refrigerate or freeze easily to perish foods. The warm weather creates an ideal condition for the spread of Salmonella.
Aside from these, Salmonella can be spread by cockroaches. Getting rid of cockroaches does not eliminate the possibility of Salmonella infection, but it at least decreases the risk of getting it.
To get rid of cockroaches, seal off cracks and crevices. These could be used as entry points for these insects.
Make sure your surroundings are clean. Get rid of their food source. Make sure your trash cans are sealed. Regularly dispose of your garbage properly. Do not leave unwashed dishes and kitchen utensils in your sink overnight and be sure to wash them immediately. Wipe away food and drink spills, especially on the table, the sink, and on your stove.
Check for leaking pipes under the sink and in the basement. Cockroaches love moisture. Seal off cracks and crevices because these could be used as possible entry points for the cockroaches.
If cockroaches are your primary problems at home, do not worry. The best pest control in NC, Go-Forth Pest Control, is just a phone call away.
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