Doctor David Torr, medical health officer with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said that they’ve been receiving more calls about cockroaches in Saskatchewan.  

Torr said that they’ve also seen a change in where those calls come from, with cockroach infestation calls historically being made for restaurants. “Now it's moved more to apartment buildings, schools, daycares – communal public places like that is where we’ve been getting more of our calls." 

He said that the calls have raised the alarm, and they're looking to prevent the spread in Saskatchewan through public information efforts, including a recent letter sent to all school divisions.  

Cockroaches can spread easily in communal spaces or apartment buildings. “Cockroaches will travel on anything. They’ll travel on furniture; they can travel in a backpack. In a school, it’s easy for them to come in and be introduced to somebody else.” 

Torr pointed to two main health concerns with cockroaches, with the first being that they can spread bacteria. “They can move in very tight spaces, so they move everywhere. They move through the sewage systems, which means they pick up bacteria, then they come in and can walk over as they’re feeding on our own foodstuffs, and plant those bacteria there which can then give us food poisoning and other serious bacterial infections.” 

The second concern is that their body parts and feces can impact allergies. “Especially for people who already have certain conditions like asthma, it makes their allergies much worse. A lot more difficulty in breathing, sneezing, watery eyes.” 

Torr said that as cockroaches are nocturnal and may not be seen as readily during the day, glue pads could be helpful in determining their presence in a building.  

He said it’s important to contact a pest control company once you’ve found a potential infestation. “It’s not just spraying a spray or a powder that will eliminate these roaches – they will easily come back again, so you need a more systematic approach through a pest control officer to deal with that.” 

Torr recommends washing or soaking dishes after eating to remove a potential food source for cockroaches, and making sure you regularly remove garbage. “Garbage - especially if the food is in there, over time that food develops and grows bacteria, which the cockroaches will pick up and bring on to the other surfaces that we use.” 

“It’s even as simple as children leaving snacks in their backpack, for example. That’s encouraging cockroaches to thrive in your backpack without you even knowing it.” 

Torr urges people to be informed about cockroaches and mitigate potential issues. “It’s really a serious issue in many cities – let's not make it a serious issue in our communities.” 

You can find information about cockroaches on Health Canada’s website here

Information about allergies related to cockroaches can be found on Saskatchewan Health Authority's website here