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How Dangerous Are Fleas?

 by james on 28 Dec 2022 |
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Fleas and what are their risks ?
What Are Fleas?

Fleas are a group of wingless insects of the Siphonaptera order. They are parasites that only consume blood from their hosts, or engage in hematophagy. Fleas come in more than 2,000 different species, and they have evolved to feed on a remarkably narrow range of hosts. Speaking of fussy eaters, there are fleas that only consume specific types of rats, birds, and other animals in addition to human, dog, and cat fleas.

Fleas actually have to sing for their food, unlike other parasitic insects that can use their wings to assist them find a host. Well, more like jump than sing. They don't have too much of an issue with this because the flea, who can leap a metaphorical skyscraper in a single bound, is the superhero of the animal kingdom.

Fleas, which are typically between 1/6 and 1/8 of an inch long, may jump seven inches vertically and more than a foot horizontally. This would be the equivalent of a jump 160 feet high and 295 feet long for a six-foot human. The only other insect Olympian that compares is the froghopper (Cercopoidea). It's not just about power, though. A flea can also correctly leap less than an inch when necessary to get from one location to another.

Fleas have well-developed legs, yet they don't jump solely on their strength. Instead, they accumulate a protein called resilin in the pleural arch of their bodies. These amazing leaps can be made by priming and using this very elastic material as a spring.

However, not all fleas jump, and their preferred hosts play a significant role in this adaptation. Large animals are a source of food for the best jumpers. Those with smaller pleural arches and limited vertical leaping ability eat flying or nesting animals.

Fleas: An Irritating Fact of Life
While all of this makes for fascinating trivia, pet owners must contend with fleas on a regular basis. The majority of the pet care market is made up of goods that both treat existing flea infestations and work to prevent them from happening in the first place. Sales volume suggests that this conflict won't be resolved anytime soon. By speaking with the individuals who spend their days in the trenches, vets, we can have a better understanding of this conflict.

The veterinarian at Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Pennsylvania, Dr. Adam Denish, explains that fleas can lead to a range of problems for your dogs. "Flea bite dermatitis, which is a particular allergy to flea saliva, is the most prevalent of which."

"It causes your pet to scratch and itch a lot. The skin can split open and develop infectious scabs due to the persistent itching. Although it can occur anywhere on the skin, the rear and base of the tail are the most common sites, according to Dr. Denish. Your vet may be able to treat it. In addition to treatments for the allergy and infection, fleas need to be removed.

Pets might have internal troubles from flea bites and infestations in addition to skin irritation and other exterior problems.

Internal Infections from Fleas

Tapeworms are a secondary issue resulting from fleas. These parasites are transferred from the flea to your pet, according to Dr. Denish.

"The tapeworm begins its life as a flea and develops into a large parasite within your pet. They are segmented parasites that can be up to 12 inches long and as little as 1/2 inch. They resemble maggots. They can result in weight loss and an itching behind. But your veterinarian can simply treat them.

Flea bite anemia is a different medical condition associated with pet flea infestations. When young or small animals—like puppies and kittens—have a bad flea infestation, their red blood cell count falls as a result of the fleas' excessive feeding. they become anemic as a result. If untreated, this may be a medical emergency and could be fatal in some circumstances. Fortunately, prompt veterinary care can typically prevent or at least minimize the consequences.

Seasons Influence Fleas

The temperature where you reside has a significant impact on how much time you must spend against fleas. Fleas in regions with freezing temperatures will either freeze to death or become dormant until warmer weather returns. However, individuals who live in warmer climates could have to deal with fleas all year long as a result of the harsh winters in the northeast and northwest.

"Fleas are always found outside on wild animals throughout the warmer months, from April to October, and are thus located on the brush and bushes in the vicinity," claims Dr. Denish. "The flea perceives your pet as a safe location to eat when it comes into contact with the pet. Fleas might also be on your clothing and enter your home that way.

But even as the weather becomes chilly, pet owners still need to keep an eye out for fleas.

Even though the majority of people believe fleas are just a problem in the spring and summer, Dr. Denish advises paying attention to the fall. "From September through October, we often encounter a higher number of fleas in our practices since the cool weather encourages them to enter warm environments like homes and pets. Fleas may endure the winter indoors but will perish outside in the cold. The majority of owners also frequently discontinue flea treatment too early. We advise protection all year long, or at least through two frosts.

Fleas Are a Health Risk to Humans, Too

Fleas in the home can still pose a serious health danger to pet owners, even though dog and cat fleas typically don't seek out humans as hosts.

"Although they can bite people, fleas don't actually live on their skin or hair. Fleas can transmit several diseases, including the plague and cat scratch fever, to humans. Consult your doctor if you exhibit symptoms of any of these conditions, advises Dr. Denish.

Getting Rid of Fleas – You May Need a Professional

When fleas start to invade your home, it's time to get expert assistance from your neighborhood exterminator.

Here are some strategies an exterminator might use to stop a flea infestation in the house, according to Thomas Silvestrini, president of Custom Pest Solutions in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania:

According to Silvestrini, qualified experts frequently employ pre-packaged aerosol treatments that comprise an insecticide and a growth regulator to stop fleas from molting to their final stage and maturing sexually. This mixture is intended to outlive the flea life cycle and break its cycle of reproduction, according to testing and design.

While most of the chemicals used by professional exterminators to eliminate fleas are harmless, you do need to take some safety measures once your home has been treated.

When used as directed on the label, pre-packaged aerosols used in carpeted and non-carpeted spaces are safe. But common reason ought to win out. Make sure that kids (and other people) are wearing socks, shoes, or slippers before permitting them to return to treated areas before they are totally dry. However, err on the side of caution and keep pets away from treated areas until they are dry. According to Silvestrini, "the bottom pads on pet's paws are very robust and the insecticide, in general, will not be absorbed."

Precore 2625 premises spray and PT Alpine Flea and Bedbug Treatment are two examples of frequently used products, although there are many more. According to Silvestrini, safety can be achieved by following the indicated application rate and keeping kids and animals away from treated surfaces until they are completely dry.

When treatment for fleas, you usually won't need to get rid of possessions like linens, pillowcases, and clothing, unlike other parasite infections like bedbugs. Fleas should be killed by running goods through a hot dryer, but it's crucial to fully dry everything because wet bedding and clothing are ideal breeding grounds for new fleas.

The only objects that might need to be thrown out are those that are seriously infested. According to Silvestrini, vacuuming a few days after treatment will help remove dead insects and raise the carpet's fibers, making it easier for any fleas that are still present to absorb poison.

A single treatment from a qualified exterminator, though, might not be sufficient to permanently rid your home of fleas.

"After a treatment, homeowners need to be patient. Flea eggs may hatch up to a month after the initial treatment, depending on the severity of the infestation, so expecting instant control and to observe no fleas is unrealistic.

Fleas have also had thousands of years to improve their own game, despite the fact that exterminators and pet care scientists have made enormous breakthroughs in eradicating such infestations.

"Fleas are really a big reason why our pets get sick. Fleas are considerably more dangerous than just being an annoyance, despite how small it may sound, according to Dr. Denish. "Fortunately, there are excellent, veterinary-approved products that can be used to prevent and treat your pet. Keep in mind that preventing fleas is more preferable to treating them.


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