The Skinny On Fleas

zoomed image of a fleaFleas are certainly an itchy annoyance to cats and dogs, but did you know they can bite and transmit disease to humans too? Fleas can cause allergic dermatitis and are the most common transmitter of the (albeit rare but still present) bubonic plague. They are a health threat to both pets and humans. Fleas can live for about 100 days during which time the females produce 400-500 offspring. Fleas transport themselves on rodents and other mammals, and usually remain on their hosts at all times.

Fleas infest both household pets and wild animals like possums, raccoons and skunks. They can also be found on shoes, pant legs or blankets, which can transfer the fleas to new environments. They also transmit the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans through infected rats. Their saliva can cause serious flea allergy dermatitis in pets and their debris has been reported to cause similar allergic reactions in humans. Fleas can also transfer tapeworms and cause anemia in pets, which is why active flea management is an important component of pet care. Flea bites commonly cause painful, itchy red bumps.

Bite Me?

Do fleas really bite humans? Unfortunately, the answer is yes - fleas do bite humans! These parasites commonly appear during the warmer months and feed on the blood of any warm-blooded mammal, people and pets included. These pests use their powerful legs to jump as high as 8" vertically, which is 150 times their own height. If humans could do this, we would be able to leap over skyscrapers. Fleas can easily transport themselves inside a home by latching onto pets playing in the yard as well as to shoes, clothing, and picnic blankets. Fleas will infest areas where pets and people sleep, such as bedding and carpeting, and then rapidly multiply. Although pet owners are primarily at risk for flea infestations, these biting pests can also be brought into yards via wild animals like raccoons or skunks and then make their way into homes.

Flea bites on arms, legs, and feetWhat Do Flea Bites Look Like?

Flea bites appear as small, red bumps with a “halo” around the bite center. Unlike tick or mosquito bites, they remain small and usually appear in groups of three or four, or in a straight line. On humans, bites are commonly found around the ankles or legs, as well as the waist, groin, armpits, and in the skin folds of the elbows and knees.

Are the Bites Serious?

According to NPMA’s Medical Advisor Jorge P. Parada, MD, MPH, FACP, FIDSA, fleas can cause a whole host of problems. When it comes to pets, fleas can cause serious allergy dermatitis and are capable of transferring tapeworms and inducing anemia. As for humans, flea bites can be quite itchy and painful while excessive scratching can damage the skin further and invite secondary bacterial infection. Although rare, fleas can also transmit the bubonic plague and spread the bacterial disease murine typhus to humans.

dog scratching itself with its legTreat the Circus

Flea bites will eventually subside on their own without any treatment. In order to ease the itch and pain you could also consider using calamine lotion or anaesthetic creams to treat flea bites. For pets, there are several treatments and preventative options available that you could discuss with a veterinarian.

However, in order to stay safe from further biting, an infestation needs to be permanently and professionally dealt with. In order to prevent flea bites in the first place, homeowners should contact the professionals at Hopper Termite & Pest. Regardless of whether or not you know you have a flea infestation, Hopper can ensure you never have to deal with them at all. In addition to professional pest control services, it is also recommended that you maintain a clean home by frequently vacuuming and washing bed linens regularly. Outdoors, lawns and yards should be kept well-groomed since fleas prefer to hide in tall grass. Additionally, fleas typically travel via rodents, so be sure to eliminate any rodent harborage sites such as overgrown trees or shrubs. Pet owners should practice active flea management by performing flea checks after pets have been outside, bathing and grooming pets regularly, and visiting a veterinarian annually.

The Smackdown 

If you suspect or discover a flea infestation - whether in your carpets, yard, or on a pet, contact Hopper Termite & Pest to assist with proper and effective flea control service. They know the skinny on fleas and pack a powerful punch to control all of your pest control needs!

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