Diseases and Health Issues Caused by Pests

What illnesses are advertently and inadvertently caused by pests? What are the ways to protect your family from these diseases? In this article, we will be discussing the different illnesses that are caused by pests, their common symptoms and how to prevent them.

Aside from being a nuisance and causing anxiety, household pests can pose serious risks to your health and wellbeing. Some pests spread diseases through their bite or direct contact with their bodily excretions, while others carry disease-causing pathogens as a result of their dirty nesting and feeding habits.

In this article, we will discuss the various types of diseases caused by pests and how to prevent them. It is important to be aware of what harm pests can cause, so that we can better protect the health of our family and pets.

Illnesses Caused by Pests

The disease and the resulting symptoms will vary depending the type of pest that bit you or you got exposed to. Here are some of the pests that can transmit diseases to humans.

Diseases caused by cockroaches

Cockroaches are carriers of pathogens that cause various diseases. The following are the diseases caused by cockroaches:

  • Salmonellosis. It is a disease similar to food poisoning.
  • Typhoid fever. It is a highly infectious bacterial infection caused by the Salmonella typhi bacterium.
  • Cholera. It is an acute diarrheal infection caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacterium.
  • Dysentery. This is a type of gastroenteritis causes diarrhea with blood. There are two types of dysentery: Bacillary dysentery and Amoebic dysentery.
  • Leprosy. Cockroaches are suspected as carriers of the bacillus Mycobacterium leprae, which causes leprosy.
  • Plague. It is widely believed that the bubonic plague is a rodent-borne disease, but cockroaches are also suspected to be carriers of the Yersinia pestis bacterium, which causes the plague.
  • Listeriosis. It is a serious infection caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. It is transmitted by consuming contaminated food and drink.
  • E. coli infections. Most strains of the E. coli bacteria are harmless, but some can cause serious food poisoning.

Diseases from rodents

  • Like termites, rodents not only cause significant property damage, they can cause many diseases, which include:
  • Hantavirus. Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is caused by exposure to the faeces or urine of deer mice.
  • Leptospirosis. It is caused by a bacteria called Leptospira, which can infect both humans and animals.
  • Plague. It is a serious infection caused by a germ called Yersinia pestis. It can be treated with antibiotics.

Diseases Caused by Ants

  • The health risks posed by ants are not as significant as that of mosquitoes or rodents. However, they carry bacterial and fungal organisms that can cause serious diseases.
  • Bites and stings. While not a disease, ant bites and stings can cause serious symptoms and health problems brought about by allergic reactions and hypersensitivity to ant venom.
  • Food-borne diseases. Ants are known to contaminate food with disease-causing pathogens such as E. coli, Shigella and Salmonella.

Diseases Caused by Mosquitoes

  • Mosquitoes bite on the skin of humans and animals to feed on their blood. Their bite can cause many different diseases, some of them fatal.
  • Barmah Forest virus. It is a virus transmitted from animals to humans. It is common throughout Australia, particularly around inland waterways and coastal regions.
  • Chikungunya virus. It is transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes mosquito, which is also the virus responsible for dengue, yellow fever and Zika virus.
  • Dengue fever. Similar to a serious cause of the flu, dengue fever is common in tropical and sub-tropical countries like Asia, Africa and South America. In Australia, dengue fever occurs in North Queensland every year when a person gets infected overseas, then a mosquito bites that person, and that mosquito transmit the virus to others.
  • Malaria. It is an infection of the red blood cells and can be fatal if not given proper medical attention immediately.
  • Ross River virus. It is found all over Australia, but more common in Queensland, Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia between January and April, particularly following heavy rains.
  • Zika virus. It is transmitted through the species of mosquitoes that also carry the virus for dengue fever and yellow fever. It can also be transmitted through sexual contact.

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Illnesses Inadvertently Caused by Pests

There are some diseases or health conditions that are not directly caused by pest through bites or exposure, but as a consequence of the damage they can cause to buildings.

Diseases caused by termites

Termites not only damage property but they also pose a threat to the health of your family. Here are some of the health issues that can result by contact with termites:

  • Skin condition such as contact dermatitis and allergic reactions, which can be caused by termite faeces through exposure with the skin.
  • Asthma. As termites chew on wooden structures, mould can develop. If this fungus grows in your home, moulds can cause serious health issues, such as chronic asthma, migraines, runny nose, cough and conjunctivitis. These health problems can be triggered by inhaling mould spores.
  • Respiratory Diseases. People who are immunocompromised or suffering from respiratory diseases such as chronic lung disease, can suffer from a serious infection in their lungs when exposed to moulds.

Common Symptoms of Pest-Borne Diseases

The insect that bites you will determine the symptoms that you will experience. Some of the common symptoms of pest-related diseases can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Sore muscles
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea
  • Stomach Pain

Some of the more serious symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • A feeling of constriction in your throat
  • Chest pain
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, etc.
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting

Ways to Protect Your Family from Pest-Related Diseases

Family is important, so we want to make sure every member is always safe and healthy. The health of your family members can be put at risk with the presence of pests in the home.

Here are 3 ways to make sure your family is protected against pest-related illnesses:

1. Eliminate moisture in the areas around your home.

Most pests tend to hang around areas with moisture. This is why it is important to keep the areas in your home dry at all times. Some pests that are attracted to moisture are termites, mosquitoes and silverfish. These pests will usually be found in moist areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, attics, basements, etc.

2. Keep your house clean.

Observe proper hygiene at all times. Make sure all the places where your family gathers often are always clean. You can do this through basic tasks like keeping the garbage lid closed and disposing trash properly. If you’re putting away leftover food in the refrigerator, put them in a container with a lid.

In addition, always keep your resting areas clean. Regularly air your mattresses and pillows outside your home to get rid of pests in it like bugs, dust mites, etc. Let in air in your room, so fresh air can circulate around the house.

It is also important to be aware of the luggage, second-hand objects and containers that you let into your home as they may contain bugs, which can become a problem when infestation occurs.

3. Use insecticides.

The use of insecticides is the first line of defence against pests. They are effective in getting rid of pests and keeping them away.

However, pesticides are chemicals, so caution is highly recommended when using them. This is will protect your family and pets from exposure to the harmful chemicals in them.

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How Can You Use Pesticides Safely and Correctly?

Pesticides are used around the home to control pests and weeds. They are generally safe and effective. However, pesticides must be used with caution because they have harmful ingredients that can enter the body through inhalation or ingestion by the skin and eyes.

Here are some tips on the proper use of pesticides around the home:

Read the label.

The first thing you have to do before using pesticides is to check the manufacturer’s warnings and recommended uses from their label. Only use the product according to what is specified in the label, nothing else.

Store pesticides properly.

Storing pesticides improperly can lead to leaks or spills. Check the label to learn if there are special requirements before using. Because pesticides that spill into the soil pose health risks, make sure any spill is dealt with immediately.

Call for professional assistance, if needed. Similarly, if your pesticides are past their expiration date, take them to the appropriate facility for disposal.

Keep pesticides away from children and pests.

If you’re spraying inside or outside, the first thing you need to do is make sure children and pets are far away from the area where you will be working. They are more vulnerable to the hazards of pesticides compared to adults. If toys get exposed to pesticides, it’s best to no longer use them.

Always be mindful of your containers.

Pesticide containers should always be closed when not in use. This is because a child may come across it and be exposed to its contents.

Here are a few safety practices to follow: if you’re transferring pesticide into a sprayer, make sure to close and store the original container before proceeding with spraying indoors or outdoors; and never move pesticides to an unlabelled container for storage.

More importantly, only use pesticides according to what is specified in their label.

Diseases caused by pests are preventable. They key is keeping pests away from your home by keeping it hygienic and making it unappealing to them. This means maintaining a space that doesn’t allow pests to thrive.

If you are faced with a pest infestation, call for assistance from qualified pest control specialists who can apply the right solution to treat the problem effectively.

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