The Impact of Pests on Your Health and Home

Your home is a safe and comfortable place to live, but it can also be an unsafe haven for pests that carry diseases. Pests like cockroaches, mosquitoes, ticks, and rodents spread several serious diseases.

Rodents can transmit zoonotic diseases such as hantavirus, salmonella, and leptospirosis through bites or contact with rodent urine or feces. Cockroaches can trigger allergies and asthma while stinging insects like bees and wasps cause painful bites and itching. Click here at to learn more.

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Rodents such as mice and rats carry diseases and cause damage to homes. They enter structures through small openings and can chew through wires, causing a fire hazard and contaminating food and surfaces with their urine and droppings. They can also spread the plague, which is caused by contact with infected rodent fleas and is often fatal if not treated promptly.

While some species of rodents are important parts of the ecosystem, other species such as Norway rats and house mice are pests that infest houses and threaten public health. They can transmit pathogens that cause disease in humans, resulting in serious illness, including respiratory illness and diarrhea. They also destroy and displace native wildlife, and can damage buildings, crops, and property.

The most common way that people are infected by rodents is by eating or drinking contaminated food or water or by breathing air containing rodent droppings or saliva. They can also inhale dust containing the bacteria that causes the plague, which leads to swollen lymph nodes. Rodents can carry fleas that may bite and transmit rabies.

Pest infestation is a significant problem for many households, particularly those in low-income communities. Cockroaches and rodents are frequent problems in subsidized housing and are associated with poor health outcomes. The relationships between the presence of pests and the conditions that contribute to their infestation are complex. Poor urban socio-environmental conditions, including poverty, unrecognized land-use policy, precarious infrastructure, and generalized insalubrity are known to contribute to rodent infestation.

Another factor that contributes to the relationship between poor urban living conditions and pest infestation is a loss of control. Having to share a living space with pests can lead to feelings of powerlessness and depressive symptoms, especially if decisions about how best to deal with them are made on a building-wide basis rather than by individuals. Screening for mental health issues among people who report pest infestation can help to provide the support needed and reduce their vulnerability. Integrated pest management (IPM) strategies that focus on prevention and trapping, rather than just killing, rodents, can help to improve living conditions for those affected by pest infestation.


Pests like mosquitoes are responsible for spreading some of the world’s most debilitating diseases, such as malaria, Zika Virus, Dengue Fever, and West Nile Virus. These pathogens cause severe health complications, even death in some cases. Mosquitoes breed in standing water and feed on warm-blooded animals such as birds, mammals, reptiles, and frogs during periods of low light intensity, most commonly at twilight and into the early evening. The females of many species of mosquitoes are particularly attracted to the blood of humans, especially women and children. The mosquitoes then bite the human host and inject toxins into the bloodstream that can affect the nervous system, immune system, and lymphatic system, causing fever, headache, body aches, and swollen glands (lymph nodes).

Rodents and insects also pose numerous health risks, including contaminating food and water sources with bacteria such as Salmonella and E coli. Their fecal matter and shed skin can also become airborne, triggering asthma attacks and other respiratory difficulties. The pests themselves can trigger allergies, such as itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing.

People with pre-existing respiratory conditions, young children, and the elderly are most susceptible to the diseases carried by rodents and insects. In addition, cockroaches and mice can contaminate household surfaces with Salmonella and E coli and are known to cause stomach problems in some individuals.

Pest infestation is stressful, leading to sleeplessness and exacerbated anxiety. People with phobias of certain pests can develop a psychological disorder as a result of a pest infestation, such as chiroptophobia (fear of bats) and ophidiophobia (fear of snakes).

For these reasons, it is vital to prevent mosquitoes and other pests from breeding in or around your home. Work with your Pest Management professional to use EPA-registered larvicides and growth regulators in non-removable water bodies, as well as adulticides when needed. Removing mosquito-breeding sites, such as standing water and old tires, as well as ensuring that screens are properly installed and maintained can help to minimize the number of mosquitoes in your yard. When outdoors, wear long pants and shirts to protect your limbs, torso, and neck from mosquitoes, and use a repellent with DEET or permethrin.


Insects are the most common animals on our planet and occupy a wide variety of ecological niches. Their ubiquity and the strict and sometimes forced coexistence of insects and humans mean that they are often linked to human health through their potential role as vectors of disease, their exposure to foods and other environmental sources, and their contribution to environmental pollution. Serious, even fatal diseases can be spread or triggered by insects and can result from direct contact with pests such as mosquitoes or ticks or through indirect contact through contamination of food, water, and surfaces.

One of the most damaging effects of pests is their tendency to spread bacterial infections such as foodborne illnesses. Pests such as cockroaches, flies, rodents, and ants can contaminate food and surfaces with bacteria, creating a potential threat to our overall health. In addition, some species of insects such as bees, wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets can deliver painful or deadly bites and stings to humans, especially those who are allergic.

Aside from the direct health risks, pest infestation can also cause other damage to your home and property. Insects such as termites can cause structural damage to your home, while ants, roaches, and rodents can destroy your personal belongings. In addition, rodents and cockroaches can leave behind droppings and urine that may cause respiratory issues in your family.

Another problem with many pests is their ability to trigger or aggravate existing conditions like allergies, asthma, and mental health problems. For instance, studies have shown that people who live in houses with cockroach infestations are significantly more likely to develop depressive symptoms than those who don’t.

As a homeowner, you can help mitigate the negative impacts of pests on your home and family by following some simple prevention tips. For example, by regularly disposing of garbage, cleaning up spills promptly, and reducing the amount of clutter in your home, you can reduce the attractiveness of your property to pests. In addition, by inspecting and sealing entry points into your home you can keep unwanted pests out.


Pest infestations can cause significant damage to your home, but pests also pose serious health and safety risks. Whether they are rodents, mosquitoes, or cockroaches, pests can spread diseases and increase the risk of allergies and asthma.

Rodents, like mice and rats, can transmit bacterial diseases, including salmonellosis and hantavirus, by contaminating food and water sources. Rodents and cockroaches can also spread allergens by shedding their skin and droppings. The proteins in cockroach feces, spit, eggs, and dead body parts can trigger allergic reactions. Dust mite excretion, cat dander, and dog dander can also trigger allergic reactions. Other allergens are proteins in venom from certain bug bites and the spores of molds, such as Aspergillus and Cladosporium.

Bites And Stings

Many common household pests can cause allergic skin irritations, such as itchy, irritated, or reddened eyes and skin. Pests such as fleas, bed bugs, cockroaches, rodents, and ants can bite humans, causing itchy, painful welts. Mosquitoes can transmit mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, malaria, and Zika virus.

Some pests can contaminate food and water sources, such as rodent droppings and feces that contaminate food preparation surfaces. Pantry pests, such as flour beetles and meal moths, can contaminate stored foods. Fruit flies can contaminate produce and meats. In addition, pests can contaminate indoor air, spreading germs through their droppings and feces and through the pollen they shed.

Pests can contaminate household products, such as cleaning products, cosmetics and personal care items, food, and water. Some pests can even transmit serious diseases, such as Lyme disease from ticks, and West Nile virus and Zika virus from mosquitoes. Pests can also cause structural damage, such as wood rot and termite infestations that can compromise the integrity of homes and buildings.