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Allergies

Cockroach Allergen and Avoidance

Cockroach AllergiesCockroaches are present in most homes even though you can't see them. In fact, if you see a cockroach during the daytime, this usually means there is a major overcrowding of cockroach populations and significant infestation in the home. The two major species of cockroach in the United States are the German and American cockroaches. There is now a significant amount of information in the medical literature that supports a relationship between cockroach sensitization and allergies and asthma. Some findings are:

Cockroach Avoidance

Cockroach management and control is possible but requires persistence. Cockroach allergen levels can persist for several months after extermination. Furthermore, there have been no effective measures developed thus far that can kill cockroach eggs. Therefore, to effectively control cockroach populations and allergen levels, interventions must be conducted on a regular bases every one to two months. If you are not sure you have a cockroach problem, place cockroach traps in common access points such as under sinks. If nothing shows up after several days then it is likely you do not have a cockroach problem. However, if cockroaches are found in the trap then effective avoidance recommendations include:

If these interventions are maintained, recent studies have shown that cockroach allergen levels will decrease in the home after 6-12 months.

For more information about allergy avoidance and environmental control, please read Brandt DM, Levin L, Matsui E, et. al. Allergists' attitudes toward environmental control: insights into its current application in clinical practice. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Apr;121(4):1053-4. Epub 2008 Jan 30. A free copy of the authors' manuscript can be found through NIH Public Access.

References

  1. Rosenstreich DL, Eggleston P, Kattan M, et. al. The Role of Cockroach Allergy and Exposure to Cockroach Allergen in Causing Morbidity Among Innter-City Children with Asthma. N Engl J Med 1997; 1356-63.
  2. Sarpong SB, Hamilton RG, Eggleston PA, Adkinson NF. Socioeconomic Status and Race as Risk Factors for Cockroach Allergen Exposure and Sensitization in Children with Asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1996; 97: 1393-1401.

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Last Reviewed: Dec 19, 2008

Jonathan   Bernstein, MD Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati

David I Bernstein, MD David I Bernstein, MD
Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati

I Leonard Bernstein, MD I Leonard Bernstein, MD
Clinical Professor Emeritus
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati