Each year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America designates May as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, an ideal time to educate the public about triggers, prevention and treatment measures for asthma and allergic diseases. In recognition of this important observation, Hulett Environmental Services reminds people that a few simple pest prevention measures can go a long way in combating allergies and asthma this spring.
Common household pests, such as cockroaches and stinging insects, can pose a significant threat to asthma and allergy sufferers. Cockroach droppings, saliva, shed skins and other body parts contain allergen proteins known to cause allergy flare-ups and increase asthma symptoms, especially in children. In addition, stinging insects send more than 500,000 people to the emergency room each year due to serious reactions from the pest’s venom.
Hulett Environmental Services recommends the following tips for safeguarding homes against common indoor allergens caused by pests:
- Exclude pests by sealing cracks and gaps on the outside of the home. Pay special attention to utility pipe entry points.
- Vacuum at least once a week using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter.
- Keep food sealed and stored properly, and clean kitchen floors and counters daily.
- Dispose of garbage regularly and store in sealed containers.
- If allergic to stinging insects, learn how to use an epinephrine kit and carry it with you at all times.
- Should you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction following a stinging insect encounter, such as tongue and throat swelling, wheezing, dizziness, or shortness of breath, call 911.
- If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to safely remove the threat.
For more information on pests, please visit www.bugs.com
Hulett Environmental Services recommends the following steps to pest proof your home:
- Seal up any cracks and holes on the outside of your home including areas where utilities and pipes enter your home. Frequent vacuuming can help to eliminate tiny pests that other pests feed on.
- Make sure vents are screened and gaps around windows and doors are sealed.
- Keep tree branches and shrubbery well trimmed and away from the house.
- Inspect boxes, grocery bags and other packaging thoroughly to curb hitchhiking insects.
- Keep basements, attics, and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry.
- Store garbage in sealed containers and dispose of it regularly.
- Store fire wood at least 20 feet away from the house and five inches off of the ground.
- Repair fascia and soffits and rotted roof shingles; some insects are drawn to deteriorating wood.
- Replace weather-stripping and repair loose mortar around the basement foundation and windows.
- A licensed and qualified pest control professional is your best resource to ensure these steps are completed properly.
by Chrysalis De Vera
The National Allergy and Asthma Awareness was scheduled last May. With the celebration of this event, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) gave a warning to all families that cockroaches are the leading cause of allergies and asthma attacks. The main factor is the pest’s saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies. These contain allergen proteins which are known to trigger allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms, especially to young people.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that asthma rates have risen up to 8.2% in 2009 from a 7.3% rate in 2001. The rates in children increased from 8.7% in 2001 to 9.6% in 2009.
Missy Henriksen, the Vice President of Public Affairs for the NPMA explained, “Most people are aware of typical indoor allergens including mold, pet dander, dust and second-hand smoke, but they should also be mindful of any cockroach infestations in their home or other places such as schools.” She also added that cockroach allergens are typically found in areas that are hard to see, such as under appliances and sinks, so it is important to periodically check those areas to be able to keep them clean and dry.
Further, this kind of pest also spread a disease like Salmonella. This is through picking up germs on the spines of their legs, which are easily contaminates the food and surfaces they touch.
To prevent cockroaches in homes, NPMA recommends the following:
(1) Seal cracks around the outside of the home to prevent pest entryways.
(2) Vacuum frequently and dispose of garbage regularly.
(3) Keep counters and floors clean and free of crumbs that attract pests.
(4) Pay extra attention to kitchens and bathrooms — especially under appliances and sinks — as these areas are particularly vulnerable to cockroach infestations.
(5) If you suspect an infestation, contact a licensed pest professional to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.