Why are pests a concern?
Pests can be a health hazard to humans and animals, as well as destructive to homes and other buildings. Pests that sting or bite include ants, bees, fleas, bedbugs, flies, lice, mosquitoes, spiders, and ticks. Pests that infest food or fabric include centipedes, cockroaches, moths, and silverfish. Wood-destroying pests include carpenter ants, termites, and wood-boring beetles. Animal pests include lizards, mice, moles, rabbits, raccoons, rats, snakes, skunks, squirrels, and voles.
Many pests pose human health threats. Dust mites and cockroaches can cause allergies, asthma, and other respiratory problems. Cockroaches can carry and transmit diseases, including salmonella. Fire ant stings can cause severe allergic reactions. Fleas can bite, causing allergic skin problems. Flies can carry bacteria, viruses, and several diseases. Mosquitoes in the United States can carry serious diseases such as encephalitis, dengue fever, and West Nile virus; in some other countries, mosquitoes can carry malaria and yellow fever. Mosquito bites can also result in infections, allergic reactions, pain, and itching.
Rats can carry and transmit diseases, including salmonella; rat-bite fever, a bacterial illness; hantavirus, an often deadly respiratory disease; and occasionally, plague. Rats can infest buildings with mites and fleas, which can also spread disease. Their dander can cause asthma and nasal inflammation.
Ticks can carry and transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Wasp stings can cause pain, itching, swelling, and allergic reactions that can even cause death.
Pests can threaten food, buildings, and structures. Cockroaches can contaminate food and transmit bacteria that cause food poisoning. Termites can cause severe destruction to wooden structures, including homes, buildings, and utility poles.
This description is based on the information found in the Web links listed with this topic.
Web Links from MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine)
Animal Diseases and Your Health
Cat Scratch Disease
Insect Bites and Stings
West Nile Virus
Asthma Triggers: Dust Mites (Environmental Protection Agency)
Asthma Triggers: Pests (Environmental Protection Agency)
Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety (Environmental Protection Agency) (PDF — 4.18 MB)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools (Environmental Protection Agency)
Pest Control (National Pesticide Information Center)
Pest Control Workers and Assistants. Haz-Map (National Library of Medicine)
Pesticides: Controlling Pests (Environmental Protection Agency)
Preventing and Getting Rid of Bedbugs Safely (New York City Mayor's Office) (PDF — 2.03 MB)
The Do's and Don'ts of Pest Control (Environmental Protection Agency)
Last Updated: July 1, 2013