If you live in the United States, it's likely that you have learned that cockroaches are considered a health concern. There have been a surprising number of news stories in recent years of restaurants closing their doors because of roach infestations. The U.S. government frowns on roach infestations. But why is this the case? Why are cockroaches considered dangerous to human health? Let's take a closer look—but not too close.

german roach on a plant

Cockroach Nymphs

Some pest roaches in Sacramento, such as Oriental cockroaches, lay their oothecae (egg pouches) in rotting organic sludge. When the baby roaches—also known as nymphs—emerge, they feed on this rotting organic matter; it provides a food source for them. Unfortunately, rotting organic matter is also food for other organisms such as salmonella and E. coli. Do those ring a bell? They should. Many restaurants have had to shut down because of these microorganisms. When they are attached to food, and humans eat the food, the result is flu-like symptoms, or worse! So, some cockroaches are exposed to illness-causing organisms almost from the very beginning.

Growing Roaches

As nymphs grow, they continue to find rotting food to eat. They'll climb in dumpsters, garbage bins, trash piles, and other dirty places to get a bite to eat. This exposes them to more organisms, which they pick up on their feet, legs, and bodies. Along with harmful bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, they can also pick up parasitic worms. The good news with intestinal worms is that the human body can flush them out. However, high-risk populations such as people with compromised immune systems, young children, or pregnant women can have more issues and severe symptoms.

Sorry, But You Should Know...

Cockroaches don't just eat rotting food, they also feed on feces. This is one of the reasons they can be found in the sewers by the millions. While humans find feces repugnant (for good reason) roaches are drawn to the smell. When they feed on feces, they're exposed to harmful disease-causing microorganisms.

It isn't pleasant to think about but, if you have a dog that leaves waste in the yard or a cat that has a litter box, cockroaches can quickly go from their waste to sensitive areas in your home. Keep this in mind when you see a cockroach run across a table, flip over to the bottom, and continue to run at full speed. Their high mobility is one of the reasons they are a serious danger to health.

Cockroach Waste

If you have a roach infestation, it is likely that you have noticed black fecal spotting. Roaches leave their waste in many places. Since they eat dirty things, their waste is a particular concern for human health. We won't get into the specifics, but cockroach waste can be left in many surprising places within your home. This can result in stomach illness or more serious diseases.


Recent studies have brought to light a new and profound danger that cockroaches present. It was discovered that homes with cockroach infestations in urban centers had more hospital visitations for asthma-related symptoms. This is because the shed skins, saliva, and feces of cockroaches are all considered allergens; they increase asthmatic symptoms and can also inspire respiratory issues for healthy adults.


Cockroaches eat rotting organic matter, dead skin, hair, and other non-living organic material. They have no interest in biting humans, but they do bite. If you wake up with a swollen eye, it is likely that a cockroach is to blame. Why? Roaches feed on dead skin in eyelashes, eyebrows, and in the region around the mouths of sleeping people.

As the roach bites, it almost immediately creates the conditions for infection because roaches carry harmful bacteria on them. This leads to irritation, swelling, and redness around the wound. You should also be aware that cockroaches can scratch you as they crawl across your skin. This too can result in swelling and irritation.


This is the bottom line regarding cockroaches: you're not likely to die, but, cockroaches can make you very sick, and they can cause you to be frequently sick. If conditions are right, your sickness can become severe and require hospitalization. 

Don't Live With Cockroaches

If you discover evidence of cockroach activity in your home, we don't recommend living with them. The World Health Organization refers to cockroaches as unhygienic scavengers in human settlements. We think that is a perfect description. Don't let these dirty scavengers crawl around your home.

Sacramento Region Pest Control

If you live in the Sacramento Region of California, then you're in our service area. At HomeShield Pest Control, we offer advanced pest control solutions for dangerous pests, including cockroaches. Connect with us today and tell us about your cockroach problem. We'll guide you toward the right solution to correct the problem and offer options for ongoing cockroach exclusion.