Cockroaches spread nearly 33 different kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. As cockroaches crawl through decaying matter or sewage, they turn into disease-carrying pests by picking up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies. The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) also warns that cockroach allergens can trigger asthma attacks, with an increased incidence in children.

"Cockroach allergens accumulate from their droppings and shed skins, which can trigger asthma attacks in adults and children," says Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. "Unfortunately, if you see one cockroach, there are sure to be many more which is why proper control and removal is needed to prevent the build-up of their allergens and the spread of bacteria."

According to the American Lung Association, asthma is a leading chronic illness among children and young adults in the United States and has been diagnosed in an estimated 6.2 million children. It is also the most common chronic disorder in children. Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens are responsible for numerous allergic reactions in inner city children and are one of the leading causes of school absenteeism.

NPMA offers these tips to keep cockroaches out of the home:

1. Vacuum often to eliminate cockroach allergens.
2. Dispose of garbage regularly.
3. Keep food in sealed containers to prevent contamination.
4. Properly ventilate basements and crawl spaces to eliminate harborage points.
5. Seal cracks, holes and space around utility pipes that enter the home.
6. If you find signs of an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to inspect and treat the pest problem.

NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5,000 members, was established in 1933 and in 2008 celebrates its 75th anniversary of supporting the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property.

National Pest Management Association