Cockroaches are one of the most infamous bugs in the United States. They are seen on television,and they even make debuts in the movie theaters. It is a proven fact that the presence of cockroaches in the United States is nothing new. So,what is it about these bugs that are causing a particular fuss? Well,it has to do with the fact that cockroach allergens are one of the main culprits triggering asthma in children.
Cockroach allergens can and do cause many children to develop asthma. Asthma,which according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America,is a disease in which airways become narrow and blocked,can cause death if not detected and treated promptly. Asthma in children in the United States is becoming a growing problem.
“The asthma rate has doubled over the last 20 years,” said Cindy Mannes,director of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association. “Studies have shown that cockroach allergens are significant in triggering an asthma attack.”
“They've (cockroaches) been around for 200 million years,and they continue to be an issue because they are so adaptable,” Mannes said. “Whatever conditions we come up with to get rid of them,they tend to adapt to them. They are a significant issue in the U.S.”
Along with the fact that cockroaches are extremely adaptable bugs,their ability to reproduce at a rapid rate also plays a part in the cockroach problem in the United States.
“A single pair of cockroaches can produce up to 2 million offspring in one year,” Mannes said. Mannes stressed that cockroaches can be controlled and eventually eliminated through the help of professional services as well as through the vigilance of the consumer.
“If your child has asthma and your physician has said cockroach allergens are one of the triggers,you should seriously consider bringing in a professional to eliminate them in and around your home. That's the only way you can really do it because the cockroaches are so adaptable.”
Cockroaches have adapted quite well and are prone to the tropical-like climate of Florida; more specifically Miami,Fla. As a result,many children in Miami are developing asthma as a result of cockroach allergens. This prompted the birth of the “Healthy Children,Healthy Homes” program,which is a private program based in Miami.
“ The goals of this program are to educate our community,which is mostly Hispanic,on what is asthma,what are the triggers of asthma,and what we can do in our daily lives to prevent the triggers of asthma in our children,” said Jennifer Herrera,a registered nurse and educator/program director of the “Healthy Children,Healthy Homes” program.
In this program,volunteers known as “Asthma Amigos” go out into the community and disseminate information on all aspects of asthma in an effort to make more people aware of this serious disease.
“Asthma is a serious problem,” Herrera said. “ The community needs to be aware of the signs and symptoms of asthma so they can catch it quickly because with an asthmatic episode,children have difficulty breathing. They cannot send the air in or out. The community needs to catch it at the early phase to prevent it from getting worse. If no intervention is done,early death can occur.”
According to Herrera,the program is sponsored by a number of companies through joint partnerships. Some of these companies include companies such as SC Johnson,RTI International,Winn Dixie Stores,Zubi Advertising,and Corpus Christi Elementary School.
One of the sponsors of this program,SC Johnson,felt that so far the program has been very successful.
“It provides an educational platform for Hispanic households,” said Christine Robins,category manager of Raid,a SC Johnson brand. “This program allows us to take it down to a specific brand to improve the lives of our consumers by educating in ways that can improve the quality of life.”
The “Healthy Children,Healthy Homes” program was launched on May 6,2003,in conjunction with World Asthma Day. World Asthma Day is one of the days set aside for observance during National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month began as only a week observance in 1984 when President Ronald Reagan signed the first proclamation,and it was later expanded to a month's observance in 1992. National Asthma and Allergy Awareness month is observed every year during the month of May.