Which common pests present the greatest health risks?
In the world on pest control, debate constantly rages regarding the appropriate use of pesticides, which pesticides are the most effective, which are the most dangerous to humans, etc. In conjunction with the US government (the EPA, specifically), the companies that produce these pesticides are required to identify the various pests that pose the most significant health risks to human beings. In an effort to more accurately and efficiently design pesticides to eliminate these pests, and to curtail the risk to humans with their use, this list enumerates the pests and vermin that represent the greatest physical health risks. Some entries on this list, like mice, mosquitoes, and bedbugs, have been discussed extensively on other posts.
Cockroaches rank among the most common household pests. Like other vermin, they feed on both unsupervised human and pet food. Cockroaches have been known to trigger asthma and have also been known to passively transport harmful microbes that can contaminate food supplies.
Body, head, and crab lice:
Lice are known to beset almost every mammal on earth. They are the hated cause of skin irritations and rashes on humans and, furthermore, are known vectors for diseases like epidemic typhus, trench fever, and epidemic relapsing fever. Human beings, as opposed to different types of animals, can host three different types of lice: head lice, body lice, and pubic lice.
I’ve waxed lyrical about mosquitoes on this site in the past, and they’re recurring subjects of analysis precisely because they’re so dangerous. Yellow fever and Dengue fever have particularly affected travelers in the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and South Central Asia. Likewise, malaria is the most serious and widespread health concern caused by mosquitoes on a global level. West Nile virus is a health concern within the US, while Eastern equine encephalitis virus tends to afflict geographical regions in the eastern United States.
Like mites—and indeed, mosquitoes—ticks are particularly insidious pests, because they can stay latched onto their host, feeding on its blood and possibly transmitting diseases all the while, and remain undetected with ease. Ticks are vectors for a number of diseases that afflict both humans and other animals. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease, tick-bourn relapsing fever, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Bedbugs, too, have a particular prominence on this blog, partly because of their resurgence in urban areas, and partly because no-one wants to have their blood sucked while they’re sleeping—apart from vampire fetishists, I mean. Thankfully, bedbugs are incapable of transmitting blood-bourn diseases, but their bite can still cause significant allergic reactions, the severity of which depends on the host.
Rats and mice:
The chief concern with rodents like rats and mice are their ability to harbor fatal diseases and to contaminate human food supplies with those diseases. As is fairly common knowledge, rats were chiefly responsible for harboring and spreading the bubonic plague during the middle ages, and can also harbor diseases like Lassa fever, leptospirosis, and Hantavirus.