Roach-induced asthma cases on the rise

TOKYO —

Nobody has managed to fully explain the reason why most human beings react to the sight of a lowly cockroach with feelings of disgust and repugnance.

Now, reports Weekly Playboy (July 14), there’s a good reason to do so. People who come down with what they mistakenly believe to be just a case of the summer sniffles may start to wonder why their rasping cough, congestion and other respiratory symptoms persist even weeks later.

“It’s called ‘cockroach asthma’ and it can be contracted by ingestion of cockroach droppings, body excretions or fragments from their dead exoskeletons,” says Dr Yoshio Otani, operator of a clinic in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district.

It is already known that similar asthmatic conditions are caused by house mites and dust. But scientists in the U.S. have also realized that house dust can contain cockroach allergens that can lead to asthma. According to Otani, allergy specialists in Japan are increasingly turning their attention to cockroaches as a contributing factor.

“There’s a report of three members of family—a 41-year-old mother, 11-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son—who all came down with cockroach asthma,” he says. “Initial tests showed no reactions for house mites or dust, and their physician was confounded as to what was causing it—until a blood test showed all three gave positive reactions to cockroach allergy.

“An inspection of their home showed that ‘gokiburi’ were running rampant. After a visit by an exterminator, they moved back in and have been free of the asthma since then.”

Inhabitants of some foreign countries showed a high percentage of positive responses to the so-called “sensitization rate” for cockroaches: Taiwan topped the list with 54.9%; the U.S. state of Kentucky rated 36.9%; and India, 35%.

Allowing for differences in geographic distribution, Otani explains that four species of “gokiburi” are most likely to be found in Japanese homes: the “kuro gokiburi” (scientific name, Periplaneta fuliginosa Serville); “yamato gokiburi” (Periplaneta japonica); “wamon gokiburi” (Periplaneta americana) and “chabane gokiburi” (Blattella germanica).

Of the above, only the “yamato gokiburi” is indigenous to Japan, the others being “gairaishu” (invasive foreign species).

Otani continues. “These varieties tend to congregate in dark, warm and moist areas, such as under the kitchen or bathroom sinks. Their activity is nocturnal.”

“Goki” have inhabited the Earth for some 300 million years, plenty of time to earn their well-deserved reputation for being amazing survivors. In addition to consuming the same foods that humans eat, they can feed on things like wallpaper or the adhesive used to bind books. A single human hair can provide a cockroach with sustenance for a week.

They’re also damn fast. Try to imagine a “goki” the size of an automobile. (On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t.) At that scale, its running speed would reach 220 kilometers per hour. “Even if it were to lose one of its legs, the other ones would balance out, and its running speed would not be affected,” notes Otani.

Chasing down a “goki” and whacking it with a rolled-up magazine demands speed and dexterity; but exterminating the ones lurking in dark crevices requires a different strategy. Otani recommends the various commercial fumigants that react with water and transform the rooms of the house into a gas chamber. (It is necessary to leave the premises for several hours until the smoke dissipates.)

“Use them in every room,” the doctor advises Weekly Playboy’s readers. “Then repeat the process two or three weeks later, to make sure you kill the newborn bugs (from mama “gokis’” nearly indestructible egg cases) that had hatched since the first fumigation.”

Japan Today

  • 13

    bass4funk

    Nobody has managed to fully explain the reason why most human beings react to the sight of a lowly cockroach with feelings of disgust and repugnance.

    For Christ's sake, have you ever looked at one of these disgusting things. I don't know, oily exoskeleton, flying, long antennae, big compound eyes, hairy legs, running faster than a bullet, jumping out from places you'd least expect, scurrying over your feet perhaps? Maybe that's why people find them more than repugnant!

    Also, I don't know what's going on, but I feel like these roaches are getting bigger. When I came to Japan 14 years ago, I never saw them quite as big, but now they are growing and it's damn freaky to see that. Even reading this article made me queasy.

  • 2

    M3M3M3

    Really interesting article with so many disgusting factoids. Luckily, living quite high up in a new building means I've yet to encounter a cockroach at home... but perhaps my wallpaper just isn't all that tasty.

    I'd love to see the stats on the average prevalence of cockroaches on 1st, 2nd 3rd.. 25th floor etc. Of course a specific building might be infested, but I assume the higher up you go the less cockroaches there are.

  • 0

    avigator

    An interesting fact that was not mentioned is that once a cockroach, (gokiburi, tobira, ipis, cucaracha), is impregnated, it is so for life. That mean it does not need to mate again in order to continue reproducing. now you know why there are so many. In my neighborhood they live in the sewers and survive the winter. Then they come out in the summer. But I have a surprise for them. I will use those foggers just about the time they are ready to come out and will put a plastic cover once I activate it so I can see if they are trying to go up. I thing I need to place it by the pipe en trance then put a cover there instead of on top of the drain cover. I hear they do not like mint.

  • 2

    FightingViking

    @bass4funk

    Also, I don't know what's going on, but I feel like these roaches are getting bigger.

    You obviously have delicious food at your place ! (Or maybe you have "superior quality" wallpaper ?)

    There is a kind of "poison" that we tried and it did seem to work... It probably smells quite "delicious" because the instructions are for the Gokiburi (ours are apparently "fast readers"...) to carry some "home" for the family, the result being a "family suicide"...

  • 1

    avigator

    What is the kind of poison so I can try it with my wild roaches. If they get to the kitchen extractor, they will feed on the grease.

  • 0

    Serrano

    "They’re also damn fast. Try to imagine a “goki” the size of an automobile. (On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t.) At that scale, its running speed would reach 220 kilometers per hour. “Even if it were to lose one of its legs, the other ones would balance out, and its running speed would not be affected,” notes Otani."

    Yikes!

    In addition to the standard gokiburi hoi-hoi traps which work pretty well, you can also catch them by putting a little sweet syrup in the bottom of a jar to attract them, and spreading a little petroleum jelly around the inside of the top of the jar so they can't crawl out once they crawl in. I got a bunch of them in the jars, ha ha

  • 3

    cleo

    There's stuff they put in the foundations/under the floorboards of new houses that apparently keeps them goki-free for a couple of decades.

    Apart from that, don't leave food lying about, wipe up spills, keep the extractor fan clean, and keep a cat. In all the time we've lived in this house I've only ever seen one goki - watched it fly in the window - and Miss Kitty made short work of it.

  • 2

    TokyoGas

    Summer time in Japan... the crawlies come out to play.

  • 1

    kitzrow

    'Makes me think' article has me remembering the time our three year old son (many, many years ago) managed to grab a cockroach to put in his mouth. I though he had a 100 yen coin or something very dangerous in his mouth. When I opened his mouth and asked him to spit it out, out popped the cockroach. Much to my dismay and disgust, the cockroadhwas still ALIVE! Let's stamp out disgusting cockroaches and crows that just get fat by feeding on our garbage spots.

  • 2

    zichi

    What is the kind of poison so I can try it with my wild roaches.

    You can buy packets of small plastic containers which contain food and poison which is also taken back to the nest. They work very well and we never actually see any even though we live in a very large old house full of holes. You can also make your paste. If you have young children you need to read the packet first.

    If they get to the kitchen extractor, they will feed on the grease.

    Why do you have grease in your extractor. I wash ours every month and keep it clean.

  • 0

    GalapagosnoGairaishu

    You can buy packets of small plastic containers which contain food and poison which is also taken back to the nest.

    It's probably boric acid. "Taken back to the nest" is a rather delicate way of saying the goki ingest the poison, return to the next and poop before dying. The nest mates feed on the poisoned poop and then they die too.

  • 0

    FightingViking

    @zichi

    I believe we mean the samer stuff... but I don't remember the name ?

  • 1

    zichi

    For those wanting to buy cockroach traps, check this link out? http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2011/07/how-to-prevent-and-kill-cockroaches.html

    There's also the cockroach "forecast" can only happen in Japan? http://gokiten.varsan.jp

  • 1

    bass4funk

    You obviously have delicious food at your place ! (Or maybe you have "superior quality" wallpaper ?)

    Probably it's my cooking, I don't have any wallpapers when we moved into our place, I got of the wallpaper, too 70-ish for my taste. I just thank God that the cockroaches aren't as big in Japan as they are in New York and NY they are everywhere. when they fly they sound like low-flying helicopters.

  • 2

    GalapagosnoGairaishu

    Taiwan's cockroaches put New York's to shame. The first time I saw one there, I thought it must be a rodent or small bird.

  • 0

    Himajin

    Zilchi, you beat me to it, I. Was going to put up the link to Goki-ten! Only in Japan...

  • 3

    UK9393

    These fascinating survivors used to give me serious Heebie-Jeebies; like I'd go into lock jaw and paralysis as a slow high pitched eeek whistled out of my mouth but then one of my girlfriend's tough-guy uncles saw me do this and got really annoyed. Shoving me to stand up and get on with it he taught me the way of the goki and now due to his teachings I can laugh a sneer at them and even snatch them in mid run and chuck them out of the window. Uncle actually enjoyed squeezing them but THAT, well I never made the grade. Here's to NOT getting allergic to them as they are here. Some poster's talk about how big they are here... go. to. Indonesia. OMG. They have tats and play loud music, tough, ig and nasty.

  • 0

    lostrune2

    Heheheh, grew up with these large; could even pick 'em by their antennae. Tall wall in the dark alleyway could be full of 'em at night during peak season. Once late night, woke up with a bunch of 'em crawling all over me (left the window open - word to the wise). Have fun, guys n gals.

  • 0

    FightingViking

    @bass4funk

    Probably it's my cooking,

    Is my invitation in the post ??? (I'll try to find the gokiburi poison that worked for us and bring it over... for the GOKIBURI...;))

  • 1

    CrazyJoe

    According to cockroach expert Dr. Rick Brenner, cockroaches give off proteins in their saliva and droppings that trigger strong allergic reactions.

  • 2

    zichi

    Himajin

    yes, thanks. You'll notice here in Hyogo we at DEFCON 3?

  • 1

    choiwaruoyaji

    To be honest, I find the giant centipedes to be more revolting. And they can bite.

  • 1

    yakimo

    "i find them cute and i have respect cos they even can withstand an atomic bomb blast. you can step on them they still walk away and they are masters of survival. only the human fear brings those reaction like asthma etc... keep poison your home with fears and soon you are the one who wants to run away from it. i laugh when i see when big humans shit their pants when they see a roach or a spider.... all nonsense. blame ur parents for it cos they introduced those fears into you!!!"

  • 0

    Himajin

    You said it, bass4funk!

  • 1

    Carcharodon

    My neighbourhood had a huge problem with them and I found the source one day - the sewers. The small hole in the manhole covers where the workmen insert the metal hooks to open the manholes was a portal, I saw several come out one night and upon shining a flashlight down there I was shocked. I told to the good wife and she said that in her friends neighbourhood the council had sealed the manholes, so out with the duck tape and all several manholes near my house all taped up and the cockroach problem in the immediate vicinity of my house was 95% solved.

  • 1

    kaimycahl

    Filthy, dirty if I ever find one in my home I'm blowing the house up!

  • -1

    yakimo

    kaimycahl, what fears running in ur mind? Remember for on roach you see there are many 100s hiding...

  • 0

    Anthony Lawson

    This article presents nothing new. Allergic reaction to cockroaches is the primary cause of allergen- induced reactive airway disease in ALL major cities. No one has to ingest ( eat ) the roach droppings. No blood test is required. A simple skin test or diagnosis of exclusion suffice.

  • 0

    Yogi Zuna

    Well here in northern New Jersey SOMETHING is going on with the roaches. For the last two year "giant" roaches have appeared, a kind I have never seen after living here over 50 years! It has to be a "foreign invasion", and they are now thriving very well here. :(

  • 1

    lostrune2

    Well here in northern New Jersey SOMETHING is going on with the roaches. For the last two year "giant" roaches have appeared, a kind I have never seen after living here over 50 years! It has to be a "foreign invasion", and they are now thriving very well here. :(

    As the climates get warmer, larger insects could thrive on higher latitudes.

  • 0

    MarkG

    I saw a entomologist exterminator documentary on a large busy NYC restaurant. cameras set up throughout showing the human activity and roach activities.

    Me don't like the cukaracha!

  • 1

    kaimycahl

    Yakimo Im sorry you can find them cute but I find them disgusting and filthy and I can't and will not live with them in my house! You can live with them but not in my house!

  • 0

    Laguna

    Another method: Leave a smidgen of cola (or beer) at the bottom of your drink can and leave the cans in cockroach-infested areas. Once enticed into the can, they cannot climb out.

  • 0

    Wakarimasen

    Yakimo - phobias exisit for a whole variety of reasons, nit just because your parents put them in your mind. Fact that lots of people can't stand roaches is partly a natural reaction, possibly a bit socialised. me, i don't like them and not surprised they cause asthma and other illness. THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!!!!1

  • 0

    Jay Que

    I find ‘gokiburi’ absolutely revolting. Thats why we need cats to hunt these buggers down.

  • -1

    Serrano

    I got another three roaches in my jars, and two in my gokiburi hoi-hois just last nite, ha ha

  • 0

    Tom DeMicke

    I find the cockroach problem far worse in mainland Japan than I do here in Okinawa. I once lived in Florida, and I'm telling you, they are BIG in Florida compared to Okinawa. They will fly right into your face. Ewwww!

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