What is the role of cockroach aeroallergens in the etiology of allergic diseases?

Updated: Jul 07, 2019
  • Author: Bhumika Patel, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Of the 4500 known species of cockroaches in the world, four are pests, including the oriental cockroach (Blatella orientalis), German cockroach (Blatella germanica), American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), and the brown-banded cockroach (Supella loongipalpa).The 2 most commonly encountered species are the German (Blatella germanica) and the American (Periplaneta americana) cockroaches (see the image below). Some species are capable of survival for long periods without food. Cockroach allergens are derived from saliva, fecal material, secretions, and dead bodies. The airborne allergen particles from cockroaches are similar to dust mite aeroallergens in that they are relatively large (>10 µm in diameter). As such, they tend to become airborne after disturbance and then quickly fall. The proposed threshold levels for sensitization and asthma symptoms are 0.04 and 0.08 µg of Bla g 2 per gram of dust, respectively. [100]

Comparison of common cockroaches. Comparison of common cockroaches.

An association between cockroach sensitization and more frequent episodes of asthma in individuals in the emergency department is described. Cockroach exposure in subjects with asthma who reside in inner-city areas could account for the disproportionately high morbidity in this population, and the association of low socioeconomic status and cockroach allergy appears to be independent of age, sex, and race. Several studies demonstrate that cockroach allergy is found not only in the inner city but also in any substandard housing conditions or where apartments are infested with cockroaches. [29, 30]

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