In a new study, researchers found 96.4 per cent of the tested cockroaches transport on their body surfaces and/or in their digestive tract transmittable stages of human intestinal parasites.
The study looked at the prevalence of human intestinal parasites in cockroaches and its attendant public health importance in 120 households comprising three different housing types in Lagos metropolis.
Overall, 749 cockroaches were caught by trapping from these households and screened for human intestinal parasites using standard parasitical techniques between August and November 2015.
They identified carriers of organisms causing such diseases as diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid fever and worms like pin-worm, hookworm and roundworm.
The amount and type of germs in these cockroaches also varied with housing type- the prevalence was significantly higher in cockroaches from the low-cost bungalow and low-cost, 2-storey houses than in medium-cost flats.
Also, the amount and type of germs in their intestines were significantly higher than on body surfaces.
The researchers said the exceptionally high prevalence of parasites in cockroaches makes them reservoirs and potential mechanical vectors for disease transmission.
They declared, “that the two cockroach species from residential buildings in Somolu, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, carry human intestinal parasites on their body surfaces and/or in the gut indicate that concerns over their potential and/or role as mechanical vectors cannot be overlooked.”
According to them, this justifies the need for improvements in existing standards of household hygiene and environmental sanitation in order to minimize cockroach contact with unhygienic sites/substrates from which parasites are acquired.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO): “Cockroaches are one of the most significant pests found in apartments, homes, food-handling establishments, hospitals and healthcare facilities worldwide.”
At night they search for food in kitchens, food storage places, rubbish bins, drains and sewers. They are pests because of their filthy habits and bad smell. Because they feed on human faeces as well as human food they can spread germs that cause disease.
Physical signs that there is a cockroach problem can be seen in the roaches themselves. Since they run from the light and are nocturnal, they may be difficult to see. They will hide in weird places, including in drains and under mats.
Previous studies from other parts of Nigeria and elsewhere had reported that cockroaches captured from homes, hostels, hospitals, and markets carry an array of human intestinal parasites.
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