Roaches and allergies

jakemyster44

Arachnopeon
Joined
Nov 19, 2016
Messages
6
Hello,
I keep a colony of B. dubia as feeders, however I have developed quite an allergy to them. Nothing dangerous, but enough to cause me to get rid of them. I am looking for another species to try in the hopes that it does not cause the same reaction. In my research I have found that the vast majority of accounts of people being allergic to roaches have been with dubias and hissers. I have seen mixed accounts as to whether people can be allergic to specific species of roaches, or if the allergy is likely to all roaches (or even all insects) in general. Most of the posts I see are of people who are going to try a new species to see if they cause the same reaction, but they never seem to update the post...

So my question to you is: Has anyone that has an allergy to one species of roach (lets say dubias for example) successfully kept another species without developing an allergic reaction?

I just got rid of my dubia colony, and have a small colony of B. discoidalis being shipped to me. I plan to keep them on a slightly moistened substrate, and with a clean up crew of Alphitobius diaperinus (Buffalo beetles) in the hopes that any allergens will be greatly reduced. Any advise would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

-Jake
 

Hisserdude

Arachnoking
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Apr 18, 2015
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2,337
Yes, I am allergic to my hissers, when I open the cage I get congested and if I handle the hissers I get blisters wherever their leg spikes have touched me, but for the most part I don't have many problems with my other roaches. :) If a large roach like Blaberus or Hemiblabera crawls on me then sometimes I do get the blisters, but I don't get congested at all when doing cage maintenance, and handling smaller species doesn't affect me at all. :)
 

Jacob Ma

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 2, 2016
Messages
281
If my roach containers get to dry and I open them up, I may sneeze and have sniffles if I breathe in some of the air from it. Roaches are actually very problematic for asthmatics apparently, especially when running free in the house. Spiky legs or perhaps any spiky object that pokes or punctures my skin causes a slight rash in that area.
 

EulersK

Arachnonomicon
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Feb 22, 2013
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3,301
... and if I handle the hissers I get blisters wherever their leg spikes have touched me
Whoa! I've heard of rashes, but blisters? And specifically from the spikes? Could you elaborate on this? I always thought that those spikes were for passive defense and gripping, I didn't know they had that capability.
 

jakemyster44

Arachnopeon
Joined
Nov 19, 2016
Messages
6
I get a stronger reaction wherever the leg spikes break the skin (however slight it may be), even with the B. dubia. While handling them is usually not an issue, or results in slight itching at the worst, I have gotten blisters from the leg spikes. I think it may just be that breaking the skin allows a heavier dose of allergens to affect the location?
 

Hisserdude

Arachnoking
Joined
Apr 18, 2015
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2,337
Whoa! I've heard of rashes, but blisters? And specifically from the spikes? Could you elaborate on this? I always thought that those spikes were for passive defense and gripping, I didn't know they had that capability.
Well I call them blisters but it may be a rash, I just get red itchy bumps wherever they've crawled on me. I only get them on the back of my hands and on my arms though, if they stay on the palm of my hand I don't get any sort of bad reaction.

This only happens to people with roach allergies though, if you hold them it probably won't happen to you, unless you are allergic to them that is. I used to be able to hold them with no problems, their spikes never gave me any sort of rash. only a few months ago did I become allergic to them.
 

Jacob Ma

Arachnoknight
Joined
Feb 2, 2016
Messages
281
Well I call them blisters but it may be a rash, I just get red itchy bumps wherever they've crawled on me. I only get them on the back of my hands and on my arms though, if they stay on the palm of my hand I don't get any sort of bad reaction.

This only happens to people with roach allergies though, if you hold them it probably won't happen to you, unless you are allergic to them that is. I used to be able to hold them with no problems, their spikes never gave me any sort of rash. only a few months ago did I become allergic to them.
Those "blisters" are/could be actual blisters, depending on the look of them, but are part of a type of rash. If they are actual large blisters, you probably should be more careful and possibly seek medical attention when around or dealing with your roaches, but the small ones that resemble Braille cells are the kind that should still be considered but are less serious (I have them too).

@jakemyster44 What exactly were you allergic to? Did it cause you to sneeze, itch, fever, stomachache, dizzy, or activate any other allergy symptoms? Usually, if you have allergic reactions to one species of roach, you will end up having allergic reactions to many other species of roaches, unless if it is a case of not maintaining a healthy and clean environment for your roaches. Even if the allergic reactions are not bad or as bad as they were before, sudden or gradual events can trigger a more harmful response to the particular substance, so you should have some sort of backup plan when these symptoms are recognized. Of course, allergies may also disappear almost completely or completely with controlled and regular exposure to the substance or resistance buildup in the body, but you should never rely on this fact alone. On the other hand, do not worry too much with your case and be aware.
 

Ranitomeya

Arachnoknight
Joined
Oct 11, 2012
Messages
250
I get welts where roaches and other invertebrates pierce my skin or scratch me. I'm not sure if it's a reaction to the fungi and microbes living on the surface of their exoskeleton or if it's the proteins or other components of their exoskeleton that causes it, but I also have difficulty breathing if I'm not careful during maintenance and inhale dust from the colonies.

I know that people can develop allergies towards chitin--especially if there's repeated exposure to tiny particles of exoskeleton through inhalation. For example, some people that live near the great lakes end up having to move when they develop allergies towards the enormous amount of crushed chitin into the air from mayflies being pulverized by the wheels of vehicles. In roach colonies, exoskeletons build up and are chewed apart or slowly broken apart by roaches and exposure to those fine particles could cause someone to develop a sensitivity to chitin. Leg spines or tarsi piercing the skin would be directly introducing chitin and other exoskeletal components directly into our body where our immune response would recognize and react to it.
 

Dark

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Dec 15, 2003
Messages
538
I'm fine with handling all my species but if their spikes pierce my skin the area is usually extremely itchy, usually seems to only happen with my hissers.

Eric
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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Just an FYI, roaches are on the list of known allergens. There is also a difference between anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity. Both are real and physiologically detrimental.
 

jakemyster44

Arachnopeon
Joined
Nov 19, 2016
Messages
6
@jakemyster44 What exactly were you allergic to? Did it cause you to sneeze, itch, fever, stomachache, dizzy, or activate any other allergy symptoms? Usually, if you have allergic reactions to one species of roach, you will end up having allergic reactions to many other species of roaches, unless if it is a case of not maintaining a healthy and clean environment for your roaches. Even if the allergic reactions are not bad or as bad as they were before, sudden or gradual events can trigger a more harmful response to the particular substance, so you should have some sort of backup plan when these symptoms are recognized. Of course, allergies may also disappear almost completely or completely with controlled and regular exposure to the substance or resistance buildup in the body, but you should never rely on this fact alone. On the other hand, do not worry too much with your case and be aware.
As mentioned, there are many potential allergens at play, and I have not narrowed it down to a single culprit. Symptoms included sneezing, watery eyes/nose, as well as slight coughing and they would last for hours. I am good about maintaining all animals that I keep, so the allergy was definitely not a result of improper husbandry. The way I see it, the only (practical) way to see if I am allergic to other species of roaches is to try keeping them. I don't believe that I am allergic to chitin, because I have no issue with crickets or other insects. My hope is that I was allergic to a protein specific to B. dubia, and that other species will not cause an allergic response. I was surprised and encouraged to hear multiple accounts of people being allergic to one species and not to others when I asked this same question on another forum. So far, I have not had any issues with the B. discoidalis, however they are still small in number. If it turns out that I am allergic to them as well, it would be a major bummer but I can always make do with crickets. We shall see!
 

jakemyster44

Arachnopeon
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Nov 19, 2016
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Just an FYI, roaches are on the list of known allergens. There is also a difference between anaphylaxis and hypersensitivity. Both are real and physiologically detrimental.
While this is true, I think it is also worth mentioning that these "lists of known allergies" typically don't look at roaches at the species level. Many common pest species of roaches can cause allergies, but that certainly does not mean that all roaches are allergenic to all people. When considering all the exotic species that make up the roach hobby (and are unlikely to be included in most allergen testing),I think that such a blanket statement is impractical.
 
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The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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@jakemyster44 Experimentation is definitely in order. It sounds like you are careful and methodical, thus standing a good chance of isolating the culprit. Practice standard bio-hazard isolation techniques and attempt to duplicate any findings. Should at least be able to narrow it down. Also, pay attention to degrees of reaction or hypersensitivity. They indicate 'similar to' and not necessarily the actual culprit.

List of known allergens is very vague. It only serves to ballpark a potential mechanism, not pin down the actual enzyme, protein etc.

Degree of sensitivity. Your allergy horror story. Female, aged 52. Repetitious extreme allergic reaction. Frequent visitor to the ER as a result. She was so sensitive to 'shellfish' if she entered a room that had shellfish in the open air within the previous 48 hours she would become covered in a full body rash within 20 minutes.
So sensitive the specialists were never able to pin down the actual cause.
 
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The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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By the way. If you (or anyone) has acute hypersensitivy and wants to go sleuthing, a small investment is well worth considering. Full body plastic isolation jumpsuits. The disposable kind. Proper snug fitting face mask and a face shield or goggles. Gloves, surgical disposable type and bootys, shoe covers. An investment of less than $50. Then establish a clean room. Gown up in it, go directly to the operating room/experimentation lab/critter room, do your business then degown immediately upon re-entering the clean room, disposing of the coverings in a plastic trash bag.
This eliminates over 90% of the variables the environment may pose. Same same protocol as transient visitors to surgical theaters.
 

jakemyster44

Arachnopeon
Joined
Nov 19, 2016
Messages
6
I wanted to update this thread before it gets buried... My colony of B. discoidalis has now grown to rival the size of my previous B. dubia colony. I am happy to say that I have had absolutely no reaction to this species (yet...)! This supports the idea that I was allergic to B. dubia specific proteins, and not chitin, etc. in general. To avoid (or at least postpone) developing an allergy to these guys in the future, I will be using a respirator/gloves when dealing with the roaches to cut down on exposure to potential allergens. I am relieved that I can continue to avoid dealing with crickets!

Edit: I should note that I did not use the respirator/gloves during the first few months of caring for the colony. I had no allergic response to the roaches despite this heavy exposure. I can say with confidence that at this time, I am not allergic to B. discoidalis
 
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smc

Arachnopeon
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Oct 20, 2016
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30
Are red roaches the same I heard about this with Dubia roaches
 
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