Dangers of Fleas
Although most consider fleas nothing more than a nuisance, what many people don’t know is that fleas pose serious risks to humans and animals. The dangers of fleas makes getting rid of them a high priority for many homeowners and pet owners, and this article will help to explain some of the more hidden dangers of a flea infestation.
Dangers of Fleas:
- Pet Symptoms and Discomfort
- Vectors of Disease and Parasites
- Cyclical Nature of Infestation
Pet Symptoms and Discomfort
Although fleas do bite and are dangerous to humans, the dangers of fleas are most commonly seen on pets. Even pets or animals with little fur are susceptible to a flea infestation. Pets who are having a problem with fleas may appear irritable, nervous, or have difficulty sleeping. Most pets with fleas will itch more than usual. Pets may have small ride bite marks from the fleas, or “hot spots” of irritated skin. Some pets are very allergic to flea saliva (called flea allergy dermatitis), and instead of small bites will develop large welts in response to flea saliva. This is a difficult condition for pets because they will want to itch and lick the welts, but the more they do this, the more serious the reaction will become.
Vectors of Disease and Parasites
Another of the lesser-known dangers of fleas is that they can be vectors, or carriers, of other diseases and parasites. Fleas can carry dangerous diseases, even the bubonic plague, by carrying the disease from the rodent, the natural carrier of the disease, to humans. Typically, disease is spread by fleas when their gut is blocked with infected blood or bacteria, which it may vomit into its next host. Fleas can also defecate while they are biting their hosts, and when the bite is scratched, the infected fleas waste is rubbed into the bite.
Fleas are also vectors of other parasites. They can carry the mites that cause several forms of mange. Fleas in the larva stage feed on tapeworm eggs, which make them a carrier of the parasite, and then, when the pet grooms, he/she may eat the flea larva which is a carrier of tapeworms, and then the tapeworm attaches the intestinal wall of the pet. The tapeworm will then lay more eggs, and when those are excreted by the dog in pet waste, will provide more food for more flea larva. Humans, and especially children, are also susceptible to tapeworm infection.
Cyclical Nature of Infestation
Well known among the dangers of fleas is the persistent and cyclical nature of a flea infestation. Although a flea problem may start small, a single flea can lay hundreds of eggs. These eggs hatch into larva, and adult flea waste, called “flea dirt” provides debris that flea larva attach to during development. A single plan of attack or proactive measure against fleas is often not effective, so a multiple-angled attack of home flea control products, vacuuming, pet bathing, and washing all bedding may be required. Pets may also require several flea treatments or veterinary intervention if there is a serious flea problem, and routine preventative flea treatments may be required on a follow-up basis.
Calling a local pest control company is likely your best option when faced with a serious flea problem, and to address flea prevention, to help protect your family and pets against the danger of fleas.