Pest Health Threats in SWLA

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Those creepy, crawly pests that make their way inside your home can be much more than a nuisance - they can actually be a threat to your health. In this Healthcast, we look into the medical implications of some unwanted guests in many Southwest Louisiana homes.

Louisiana's mix of sun, rain and humidity makes us a perfect breeding ground for bugs.  Robert Soileau with J&J Exterminating says, "Because of our climate, we have a wide variety of insects and pests that we deal with throughout the year."

From fire ants to mosquito mayhem, the spring and summer months can be a dreaded time to attempt to enjoy the outdoors.  "This time of year, you're going to start seeing more and more ants popping up in the yard," says Soileau, "mosquitoes are about to get started really good, your normal roaches and spiders."

With each of these pests comes a different set of health risks. Dr. Nichole Churchman with Family Care Center of Southwest Louisiana sees the mark that many of these bugs can leave behind.  "We hear a lot about West Nile Virus," says Dr. Churchman, "actually much more common than that is allergic reactions to mosquitoes or developing a skin infection because you've gotten a mosquito bite."

Allergic reactions and skin irritations are also common with ants and fleas. When it comes to the "stingers," a more serious complication can accompany the pain.  "A lot of patients end up in the ER because of being stung by insects," says Dr. Churchman, "and they have acute allergic reactions that cause them to have trouble breathing - feel like their throats are closing down."

And the dreaded cockroaches increase the severity of asthma in about 20 percent of the U.S. population!  "They do carry a lot of allergens," says Dr. Churchman, "they also carry bacteria that can cause infections, but allergens are by far the most common thing that they cause."

If you are bit or stung by one of these pests, physicians recommend that you keep the wound clean and dry. If you start running fever or have drainage from the sore - you need to see a doctor.

When it comes to minimizing these pests, Soileau says to manage your lawn and get your home treated every few months to keep it healthy for you and your family.