Fleas feed off the blood of humans and animals such as dogs and cats. A flea bite is intensely itchy and secondary infections are common. Treatment options include anaesthetic creams and icepacks to reduce the swelling. Fleas can transmit disease including tapeworm larvae and murine typhus.
Fleas are a type of wingless parasite found worldwide. They feed off the blood of humans and animals such as dogs and cats. Since fleas use a wide range of hosts, diseases can be transferred from one host to another. Fleas are known to transmit tapeworm larvae and, uncommonly, the disease murine typhus.
There are three main species of flea that infest humans:
The cat and dog flea are common in The Mid-Atlantic region of the USA. A flea bite is intensely itchy and secondary infections caused by scratching are common.
Adult fleas can survive for some months without feeding. The flea uses its saw-like mandibles (jaws) to cut through skin, usually on accessible parts of the body such as the legs or feet. Flea saliva contains anticoagulants to encourage the blood to keep flowing. Female fleas are prompted to lay their eggs after feeding. The eggs are light coloured and oval shaped. The larvae cocoon themselves within weeks of hatching. Vibration, such as footsteps, prompts adult fleas to emerge from their cocoons. This is why you may be bitten after entering a house that has been unoccupied for some time.
Dogs and cats are common ‘reservoirs’ for fleas. Your pet may be irritated by flea bites and scratch often. Check for fleas by parting the fur, particularly around the ears and rump. Look for the fleas themselves or for flea faeces (poo). Flea faeces look like miniscule dark specks. For a positive identification, place a few of the specks on a piece of lightly moistened white tissue. Flea faeces will leech a ring of blood into the tissue.
Suggestions to treat flea bites include:
Infested animals should be treated and monitored for several weeks. Suggestions on treating your pet include:
Your local council can offer information and advice on dealing with a flea infestation. Some general suggestions on eliminating fleas yourself include:
A qualified pest controller like Royal Pest can determine the type, source and extent of the infestation, then use registered insecticides to control the fleas. Good hygiene practices, such as frequent house cleaning, should reduce the risk of further infestations. Contact for a free estimate.
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