Should You Be Worried About Cockroaches And Kissing Bugs?

Hello all!

Well, it’s been a crazy few weeks. My beloved computer has run into a little hiccup. It’s times like these I am very thankful to live in a big city with an Apple store less than five miles from my house. I’m also reminded how amazing my computer is – It’s the tool that keeps my efficiency high.

My computer was sent off for repair, forcing me to borrow computers, dig out my archaic computer, and even work from the Apple store – which is a great thing to know you can do – all of the computers are available for your use in store. I pulled up a chair, pulled out my snacks and headphones, and got some work done. Somehow, I’ve managed to keep it all together – creating lectures, producing lab activities, and writing a test for my in person classes as well as conducting and grading for my three online classes, and completing articles,doing daily social media for clients, and more! 

My beloved computer is not fixed. Due to some teary eyes after two hours in the Apple store on Monday, they are not going to ship it off and will instead take 24 hours to fix it once the part arrives in their store. Much better than a full week like the initial repair. So here I am, with my almost fully functioning computer, playing catch up. I have 3 articles in the queue for the blog and have spread them out over a few days so you aren’t bombarded.

This article stemmed from yet another cockroach interaction: 

If I’m out for a few days, I usually come home to a few “welcome home” treats on my floor ­— cockroaches. We are co-inhabiting our home with roaches. Recently, one early morning before daybreak, my dog begged to be let outside, and as I crossed the living room, I felt a loud crunch under my foot. I was incredibly happy to realize I was wearing my slippers when I flipped the light switch on and saw the smashed cockroach. This threw me over it. I’m over the Texas-sized cockroaches that live in this city and in my home.

When I first moved here, I started researching the cockroaches found in Texas (of which there are many but most common is the American cockroach species) and found this sentiment too many times to count, “Every house in Texas has roaches. It’s just a question of how many.” Cockroaches don’t care about the size or cost of your house. They invade every class.

OK, if I have to live with them, do they cause harm? Well, turns out they can carry diseases. According to the World Health Organization, cockroaches are proven or suspected carriers of parasites, viruses or organisms that can cause diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, plague, typhoid fever and viral diseases. That sounds terrible, but doesn’t mean every cockroach carries disease. Just like not every house fly carries disease, but they have the potential to. We will never live in a sterile environment. Household pests, diseases and parasites will always be around us.

In the past few months, the media has been highlighting a parasite that’s on the increase in Texas, Trypansosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease, spread by “kissing bugs.” Kissing bugs are vectors of the parasite just as cockroaches can be vectors for different parasites. Kissing bugs live in similar environments, enjoying walls and roof cracks of poorly constructed buildings. They are active at night, similar to cockroaches. But different from cockroaches, who are omnivores, kissing bugs feed on blood (like mosquitoes). The problem is not the bite of the kissing bug, but is instead the fecal matter. The kissing bug defecates near a bite and when you wipe or scratch the bite, the parasite enters your body. The parasite can also enter your body if you eat food contaminated with infected kissing bug fecal matter. Make sure to wash your food!

Chagas disease is treatable in the early stages, but unfortunately, often times no symptoms are displayed. When the parasite moves on to your heart and digestive tissue, treatment is limited. Because of warming temperatures in Texas, Chagas disease is on the rise, spreading up from Central America. One in every 6,500 blood donors are infected with Chagas disease in Texas as compared with one in every 27,500 donors across the country, as reported by The Dallas Morning News.

Parasites are widespread throughout the world, and eradicating them is nearly impossible. There is no vaccine for Chagas disease, so the next best prevention is controlling the vector and reducing interactions with humans. The key to preventing the spread of disease through cockroaches and kissing bugs in your house is to keep food contained, floors clean, houses cracks and crevices sealed, and close any gaps in door frames and floors. That’s where I fail. We rent an older house that has its fair share of extra large gaps, and it’s hard enough to get the maintenance guy to come out for anything, never mind the ever-present insect.

Two years ago I mounted a successful attack on the ant infestation in my house, and this spring it’s time to create a safe way to live inside and keep the roaches outside. Cockroaches aren’t going anywhere either. They’ve been on this earth for more than 300 million years and have now adapted to live among humans. There’s no way to keep them out forever, but there is a way to keep their numbers down. Clean the outside of your house of leaves, trash and any hiding spots, and line the insides of your house, including drains, door stops and cracks, with bay leaves, moth balls, mint oil, Listerine, lemon, borax and diatomaceous earth. I guess I better start the deep spring cleaning as well!

As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly. 

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