Termites and health: are termites harmful to humans or pets?

Termites represent a hidden danger to our houses: they are able to destroy all wooden structures and furniture in 3-5 years, making a house unfit for human habitation. Of no less importance is the fact that termites can affect human health that makes a fight against infestation equally significant. There are common questions: can termites cause health problems?; can termites harm humans?; what do termites do to humans?; are termites bad for humans? – the answers you will find in the article.

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Are Termites Harmful to Humans or Pets?

Are termites dangerous to humans? On their own, termites usually are not dangerous to humans and pets. Their final goal is not to do harm to human health, but to find food and water sources to maintain their colony. Due to this, termites destroy our houses devouring its wooden structures, clothes, paper and furniture.

Warning: there are cases, when termites cause myiosis (diseases of human and animals, caused by pests). At that, there is a possibility of mechanical transfer of infectious agents. These insects may be responsible for rare occasional parasitism in human.

There are described cases, when these insects creeped into the middle ear and cause earache and noises in the ears. Termites can attack the intestines. In this case, one feels abdominal pain. Termites may be found in the feces (which may be bloody with mucus).

Are Termites Harmful to Humans Health?Termites can also rarely sting humans and pets, and their stings are extremely painful and causes relentless itching and swelling of tissues.

Thus, termites can cause allergies and asthma attacks.People, who are predisposed to various kind of allergy, can get a moderately severe allergy to fatal outcome induced by pulmonary edema.

Be careful: if you were stung by a termite and even if you are not predisposed to allergy, call an ambulance.

Learn more about drywood termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment: spot treatment and DIY methods; how to get rid of them in furniture?

What One Should Know When There Are Termites Inside a House?

When your house is infested by termites, they are able to cause various side effects that are represented in form of mold and termites’ waste products (frass).

Termite Frass

  1. Termites frass (pellets). These pellets also called frass or poop, are wooden colored. Termite pellets are harmful to humans. The frass is just like a saw dust and when contacts the skin it might cause contact dermatitis and allergic reactions.

    The existence of termite droppings indicates that there is a sound termite activity in the surrounding area. Such droppings can be found on a bed (the sign of “roof” activity), on window sills, carpet, floor. Termites dust can cause rather serious health problems.
  2. Recommendation: contact dermatitis – a skin reaction resulting from exposure to allergens or irritants. If you have got contact dermatitis because of touching a termites’ frass, do not postpone your visit to a doctor.

    As for first aid in this situation, you should not scrub the skin, it only aggravates inflammation. Take decongestant medicine according to the instruction. Cool shower with soap and water will help to remove or inactivate most of the offending substance. In the formation of blisters, apply cold wet compresses for 30 minutes 3 times a day.


  3. Mold. Termites decompose wooden structures that can cause the appearance of mold. If this fungus appears in your house (especially inside the living rooms), the constant contact with it can be very dangerous for people who live there.

    The main damage from the fungus is in its spores, which are distributed in the air and can settle on human skin, getting into our body while breathing.

    This will entail a lot of the health problems, causing different diseases.Inhaling mold spores, the general health condition may get worse, a person starts to feel weak, often have migraine attacks. Mold spores are a strong allergen, a person is in danger of chronic runny nose, cough and conjunctivitis. Besides, mold spores can cause chronic asthma.

    “Neighboring” mold can often cause problems to the musculoskeletal system which lead to diseases of joints and rheumatic pains. There can be problems with the stomach, possible liver and kidney damage, internal bleeding can occur in severe cases. Mold is very dangerous for children, especially for those with depressed immunity, their immature organisms are most exposed to the impact of mold spores. And if a child is in constant contact with the mold, he or she may be ill for an entire lifetime.

Learn more about subterranean termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment and DIY methods. Eastern subterranean termites and their tunnels and tubes with photo.

What Diseases Termites Can Cause?

Here you can see how are termites harmful, read about harmfull effects of termites on humans

  1. Asthma is a common long term inflammatory disease of the airways of the lungs. It is characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. 

    Symptoms include episodes of wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Mostly, asthma is caused by mold spores inside a house.
  2. Contact dermatitis – a skin reaction resulting from exposure to allergens or irritants. Rash is limited to certain areas of the skin and often has clearly defined borders. In case of allergic reaction, the first exposure to the allergen (or in some cases the first few impacts) may not cause inflammation, but subsequent exposure causes itching and dermatitis develops in the period of 4 to 24 hours.
  3. Allergies – increased sensitivity to certain substances (allergens) that cause a painful condition (tearing, red spots, coughing, sneezing and so on.)
    Advice: in case of allergy reaction on mold or termites’ frass take decongestant medicine according to the instruction. Wash itching skin areas with cold water and soap. Pay a visit to a doctor.


On these pictures you can see why termites are health hazard:
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Do Termites Constitute a Menace for Pets?

Are termites harmful to health of our pets? Yes, termites can do harm to pets in terms of stings and contacts dermatitis. If a termite stings your pet, before going to a vet, give it human decongestant medicine in half dose (depends on a size of a pet). Besides, if stung area is swelling and causes pain to your pet, make a cold compress soaked in saline with household soda.Do not let your pet lick the compress away.

In case of contact dermatitis, the first aid is the same. Do not let your pet scratch a damaged skin area, you can use medicine collar in this situation. You should also provide a pet with constant access to water. Cool shower also will be a good idea. Do not use decongestant lotions – they can aggravate the situation, besides your pet can lick it out and can cause poisoning.

How to Protect Yourself When There Are Termites Inside Your House?

There are several measures that can protect you against health risks that could be caused by termites:

  1. Ventilation and airing. Pay a close attention to the ventilation system of your house, air wells should always be passable for air, air grids should always be clean.

    To intensify the air intake, you should always air your house and leave windows or vent lights open for 4-5 hours a day. In summer you can leave them open for an entire day. Such measure will bring fresh air inside a house and decrease the level of humidity. Remember, that termites like damp and stuffy rooms.
  2. Cleaning and mopping. During your usual cleaning activities, you should clean all house surfaces with vacuum cleaner. In case there is termites’ frass, you won’t touch it and get problems with your skin. Regularly replace vacuum cleaner bags.

    During cleaning, pay close attention to window sills, window frames, doorways, ceiling and floor plinths, furniture and wall surfaces. They should be perfectly clean all the time. What concerns wet cleaning and mopping that follow vacuum cleaning, you should do it at least 2 times a week and also very thorough. You can use special disinfecting chemicals based on chlorine, or use bleach for closes.

    Such a solution for wet cleaning will not just take away termites frass, but also eliminate mold and it spores. Besides, you can make a mixture of water and pet shampoo based on permethrin, that is a very strong insecticide. After cleaning with pet shampoo, house surfaces will be toxic for termites for about 2-5 days.

Here you can learn more information about effective treatment method called tenting (fumigation): dangers for termites, preparing for fumigation and cleaning after, how long does this procedure last?

Useful articles

If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:

Termites are very dangerous insects not only for our houses and furniture, but also for humans and pets. Preventive measures such as regular cleaning, mopping and airing of a house will help you to eliminate hazardous effects of termites on your health. So, now you know practically everything about termites and humans, about termites effect on humans.

Comments: 2
  1. Joe

    Can you please provide sources to back up your claims that termites sting! Termites do not have stingers. They bite – and rarely do they every bite humans or pets. Your advice on how to protect yourself when your home has termites is ridiculous!! You need to call an exterminator and get rid of the termites, not open windows and vacuum.

    This is why people are so misguided online because they read an article like this and then figure it is fact.

  2. Marco

    Well, i wish my mom would spray the house but she wants to go to Hawaii on vacation and i have alot of bites on me and i do have asthma so i guess i will suffer

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