More Edmonton houses and apartments are falling prey to an age-old problem — cockroach infestations, according to health officials.

"We've seen a doubling of our complaints in the last year,"  said Ken Dong, an environmental health officer with Alberta Health Services-Capital Health.  "We haven't had any bad roach infestations for about 10 years. It just seems in the past year or so, it's resurfaced."

Cockroaches come to the city in everything from imported food, bedding and luggage, Dong said.

The problem is keeping exterminators busy.

Aaron Monk of Ecopest said he has worked on about 100 cases in the seven months he has been with the company.

"I've seen a lot of them actually, crawling on ceilings, walls,"  said Monk. "There's some pretty severe cases in the city."

In one case, a house was infested with hundreds of cockroaches.

Each female cockroach can carry 50 eggs, Monk said, and they hatch in a number of weeks.

"You can get a pretty sizable roach infestation in a relatively short amount of time," he said.

An infestation is more than a nuisance.  It can also be a health hazard, according to Dong.

"There is a possibility for food-borne illnesses to occur if these roaches have been tracking through sewage or garbage and they make their way to food contact surfaces."

Homeowners who find cockroaches should deal with them quickly because it can take months to get rid of them, even with an exterminator's help, Dong said.


With files from James Hees