Fleas (Parasite) are not only a nuisance to humans and their pets, but can cause medical problems including flea allergy dermatitis (FAD), secondary skin irritations and, in extreme cases, anemia, tapeworms, stomach flu. Fleas can transmit murine typhus (endemic typhus) fever among animals and from animal to humans. Also, fleas can transmit bubonic plague and any other disease from human to rodent and from rodent to humans.
Tapeworms normally infest in humans in severe cases. Although bites are rarely felt, it is the resulting irritation caused by the flea salivary secretions that varies among individuals. Some may witness a severe reaction (general rash or inflammation) resulting in secondary infections caused by scratching the irritated skin area. Others may show no reaction or irritation acquired after repeated bites over several weeks or months. Most bites usually found on the ankles and legs may cause irritation or pain lasting a few minutes, hours or days depending on one’s sensitivity. The typical reaction to the bite is the formation of a small, hard, red, slightly raised (swollen) itching spot. There is a single puncture point in the center of each spot. (Ants and spiders leave two marks when they bite.
Mosquitoes, bees, wasps and bedbugs cause a large swelling or welt.)
The flea life cycle begins when the female lays after feeding. Adult fleas must feed on blood before they can become capable of reproduction. Eggs are laid in batches of up to 20 or so, usually on the host itself, which means that the eggs can easily roll onto the ground. Because of this, areas where the host rests and sleeps become one of the primary habitats of eggs and developing fleas. The eggs take around two days to two weeks to hatch.
Adult fleas cannot survive or lay eggs without a blood meal, but may live for one year without feeding. There is often a desperate need for flea control after a family has returned from a long vacation. The house has been empty with no cat or dog around for fleas to feed on. When the family and pets are gone, flea eggs hatch and larvae pupate. The adult fleas fully developed inside the pupal cocoon remains in a kind of “limbo” for a long time until a blood source is near. The family returning from vacation is immediately attacked by waiting hungry hordes of fleas. (In just 30 days, 10 female fleas under ideal conditions can multiply to over a quarter million different life stages.)
Combating a flea infestation in the home takes patience because for every flea found on an animal, there could be many more developing in the home. A spot-on insecticide will kill the fleas on the pet and in turn the pet itself will be a roving flea trap and mop up newly hatched fleas. The environment should be treated with a fogger or spray insecticide containing an insect growth regulator, such as pyriproxyfen or methoprene to kill eggs and pupae, which are quite resistant against insecticides. Frequent vacuuming is also helpful, but the vacuum bag must be disposed of immediately afterwards.