Fleas are one of those annoying pests that live everywhere. They have six legs and can jump up to 200 times the length of their own bodies. Fleas live on blood, piercing the skin of their hosts and injecting them with their saliva.
If you have cats or dogs as pets, you’ll know what flea magnets they are. You’ll also appreciate how challenging it is to get rid of fleas. It is an ongoing battle that all pet owners must control because fleas carry diseases to people, cats, dogs, and other animals.
If you allow flea populations to get out of control, you could be dealing with human flea diseases, cat flea diseases in humans, or even ingested flea diseases. Disgusting – but true!
Flea Diseases in Humans, Dogs, and Cats
People typically get flea diseases from their pets or by walking outdoors. Fleas are present in nature and feed off rodents, raccoons, squirrels, and pets. If a creature has blood flowing through its veins, fleas will happily feed on them.
The dangers of this behavior include fleas picking up diseases and transferring these between hosts. Known as zoonotic diseases, they can make people and pets incredibly sick.
Here is a sample of flea diseases in humans that pets carry over to people.
1. Bubonic Plague
Known as the Plague or the Black Death, this disease was transmitted by rats to people between 1330 to 1770. Because this disease killed so many people and they didn’t know what it was or its origins, it caused major fear.
Today, scientists understand that the bubonic plague is a rat flea disease that carries the Yersinia pestis bacteria. Although uncommon today, it remains a potentially fatal flea-borne disease in humans and pets. Fortunately, treatment with antibiotics is effective in combatting this disease.
2. Murine Typhus
Flea diseases in humans include Murine typhus, which is a Rickettsia typhi bacterium. These bacteria are similar to Rickettsia rickettsii, which is a tick-borne illness. Instead of being transferred by bites, Rickettsia typhi are present in flea feces. This disease is also carried by rats and fleas, which spread the bacteria to other hosts.
Flea disease symptoms from this germ include a full-body rash, muscle pains, headaches, and fever. A quick diagnosis and antibiotic treatment frequently lead to a full recovery from murine typhus. As with many zoonotic diseases, human and animal health often worsen if the medical professional cannot diagnose the symptoms correctly
Bartonella henselae is one of the flea diseases in cats that makes cats sick and spreads to humans. This bacterium causes cat scratch disease in people. Symptoms include pus developing around the cat scratch, swollen lymph nodes, and fever.
If untreated, severe cases of bartonellosis or cat scratch disease can affect your internal organs, heart, brain, and eyes. Severe cases of this bacterium infection are unusual but possible if undiagnosed and untreated.
People and cats can recover from this bacterial infection without medication. But treating yourself and your pets with prescription antibiotics is best to limit the chances of spreading this disease.
4. Haemotropic Mycoplasmas
Dog and cat flea diseases that also impact people include Haemotropic mycoplasmas. This disease comes from infected fleas that pass the parasitic, bacterial illness to cats and dogs. Alternatively, dogs and cats can transfer this parasitic bacterium through open wounds, caused when fighting.
Ticks and mosquitoes can also spread this disease. This parasite infects the red blood cells of your pets and can trigger a fever and anemia. People can suffer similar symptoms, including weakness and loss of appetite. Anyone with a weak immune system is at risk of acquiring this infection.
Typical treatments involve antibiotics and possible blood transfusions in cats and dogs. Untreated, mycoplasmas can cause severe health damage in people and animals.
Tapeworms come from flea diseases in dogs and cats, among other animals. Pets can swallow fleas containing tapeworm eggs while grooming themselves. When this happens, the larvae can hatch in the pet’s intestines, causing a contagious transfer of this parasite.
Tapeworm symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, stomach ache, nausea, and loss of nutrition, leading to other health issues. The treatment for tapeworms in people and pets is deworming medication. These medications include praziquantel for animals and mebendazole and albendazole for people.
6. Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)
Dogs and cats can be allergic to flea saliva, which fleas inject into their hosts when sucking their blood. The flea bite site causes an allergy that becomes itchy and inflamed. The cat or dog’s skin often swells and becomes painful. Your pet may also lose a lot of hair because of this flea allergy.
People can even have allergic responses to flea bites, requiring antihistamine creams or other medications. But if your pet suffers from FAD, the vet prescribes steroids or antibiotics due to secondary skin infections.
Pet’s Fleas – Home Infestation
If your pet is scratching, the chances are they picked up fleas in your garden or on a walk. However they acquired the fleas, treating your pet is the only way to stop the fleas from becoming a problem.
If the flea infestation is really bad, you must take extra steps to clean up your environment. You must disinfect all your pet’s bedding, spring clean the home, and clean up the property to treat the infestation.
Once a flea infestation sets in, it can take up to three months to bring it under control. The best option is to treat flea infestation professionally with organic or traditional pest control methods.
Expert Pest Control To Manage Flea Diseases
Treating flea problems in the home and on pets is doable if done regularly. But if warm summer months promote a regional infestation, you’re in trouble. Also, if you have several pets and don’t manage their flea numbers, these quickly get out of hand as the females lay thousands of eggs.
Using store-bought products for the home and garden might seem like a good short-term solution. But our experience tells us the opposite is true. If you hire pest control experts from the start, it will be more cost-effective and safer. We will assess the situation and offer you our best solution – organic or traditional flea control.
Take the easy, effective route and call us at (978) 325-1325 to get ahead of your flea pest control situation in Massachusetts today. You and your pets will be safer. You and your entire family will also be much more comfortable after a professional pest control service.