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Tox Town - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work, and play
Pestsen español

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. The Zika virus is also spread by mosquitoes. 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 Bites
Animal Diseases and Your Health
Cat Scratch Disease
Hantavirus Infections
Insect Bites and Stings
Lyme Disease
Parasitic Diseases
Salmonella Infections
Spider Bites
Tick Bites
West Nile Virus
Zika Virus

More Links
Asthma Triggers: Gain Control (Environmental Protection Agency)
Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety (Environmental Protection Agency) (PDF — 4.18 MB)
Do's and Don'ts of Pest Control (Environmental Protection Agency)
Managing Pests in Schools (Environmental Protection Agency)
Pest Control (National Pesticide Information Center)
Pest Control and Pesticide Safety for Consumers (Environmental Protection Agency)
Pest Control Workers and Assistants. Haz-Map (National Library of Medicine)
Preventing and Getting Rid of Bedbugs Safely (New York City) (PDF — 2.03 MB)

Last Updated: August 16, 2016

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