Cockroaches, Asthma Linked in New Study

Filed under: In The News, Health

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Public housing enemy number one? Credit: Getty


Not to overstate the matter, but cockroaches are pure evil.

They know that only they and Chuck Norris have a chance of withstanding a full-scale nuclear holocaust, so they kick back and wait for their shot at world domination.

Meanwhile, cockroaches amuse themselves by rubbing their little feelers together and coming up with new and disgusting ways to creep us out. They already carry all sorts of bacteria, but researchers suspect they're also in the asthma business.

Ah, but scientists at Tulane and North Carolina universities may be one step ahead of the bugs.

The Associated Press reports scientists from the schools are teaming up to see if killing roaches can alleviate asthma symptoms in kids living in public housing.

Cockroaches have been linked to asthma before, but Felicia Rabito, an associate professor of epidemiology in Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, tells the news service this is the first study to look specifically at the effects on children.

Rabito and North Carolina University entomologist Coby Schal have $942,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to kill 'em some cockroaches and see if it helps kids breathe easier. The Associated Press reports the money is part of $2 million in grants to improve indoor air for asthmatic youngsters in public housing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, some 7.1 million kids younger than 18 have asthma. Rabito tells the Associated Press studies show inner-city kids usually have worse asthma than other children.

Rabito and Schal and their teams will spend a year studying 100 children with moderate to severe asthma who are allergic to cockroaches and live in homes where at least 30 roaches are trapped in three days. Roach baits and low-toxicity insecticide will be used in 50 of the homes. Nothing will be used in the others.

Researchers will call routinely to check on how kids are doing and whether or not they had to go to emergency rooms or be hospitalized.

The ancient Chinese scholar Sun Tzu tells us in "The Art of War" that knowledge precedes victory while ignorance precedes defeat.

The cockroaches have not won yet.

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