4 Surprising Flea Diseases You Need to Know
We often dismiss fleas by arguing they are tiny insects that can only suck blood and are not all that threatening. In some cases this belief is true but largely, fleas are more than capable of spreading a number of illnesses to both animals and humans. They transmit various diseases when they take a blood meal from the host. Often, we get worried about their presence since they seriously affect the health of our animals; cause infections, anemia, and even transmit diseases which can also affect our family as fleas and ticks may bite humans as well.
We have listed a few flea diseases you need to know about:
Bacteria known as ‘Rickettsia typhi’ are the reason for this flea-borne disease. Fleas get infected when they bite infected animals like cats or rats, etc. Once the infected flea bites an animal or a person they defecate at the site. These bacteria then enter the body through the wound or when the person scratches the bite area.
In general, symptoms of this disease appear within two weeks of getting in contact with the infected fleas. These include, fever with chills, nausea, loss of appetite, body aches, vomiting, rash, etc. In some cases, people recover without any treatment and severe illness is uncommon. However, it can lead to one or more organ damage including heart, brain, kidneys, etc. if untreated.
Laboratory testing such as a blood test can be performed for the diagnosis of the disease.
Antibiotic such as doxycycline is commonly used to treat flea-borne typhus.
CAT SCRATCH DISEASE
This disease is caused by bacteria known as ‘Bartonella henselae’ and spread by cats. Younger kittens (less than one year) are more prone to have this infection and spread it to humans. Cats get the infection with flea bites and flea dirt gets into their wounds. Cats pick up infected fleas by biting or scratching the flea bite area and carry the bacteria under their nails or teeth and transmit them to humans when they scratch or bite them.
Some common symptoms include a bump at the bite area, headache, a low-grade fever, sore throat, weight loss, etc. It is capable of causing rare complications that include affecting the brain, heart, eyes, and other internal organs in humans. In cats, it can cause heart inflammation as well as it can develop in the urinary system or mouth.
Consult your physician once the symptoms are seen. You may be asked for a physical examination. An accurate diagnosis is achieved by performing a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) blood test.
Usually, Cat scratch fever does not require a frontline treatment. In serious conditions, antibiotics (like Azithromycin or ciprofloxacin) are used for the treatment. For the ideal results, a veterinarian should be consulted.
- Avoid playing roughly with your cats, so they can’t scratch or bite.
- Wash your hands with soap and water after playing with your cat.
- Trim your cat’s nails.
- Administer flea prevention treatment on your cat after consulting a veterinarian.
- Use vacuum or pest-control to minimize the flea population in your home.
- Keep cats indoors and perform regular vet check-ups.
FLEA ALLERGY DERMATITIS
An allergic reaction caused by flea saliva after flea bites on the dog or cat’s skin is known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). FAD often leads to secondary skin infection as pets infected with FAD tend to scratch, lick, or bite their skin constantly that can damage their skin and cause the infection.
Persistent itching, scratching, biting, chewing of the skin are a few common symptoms. Moreover, redness and thickening of the skin, hair loss, unpleasant odor are other signs of FAD. During warm weather signs of FAD are more severe because fleas are more active in such weather.
Early symptoms indicate the possible flea allergy, however, the conclusive diagnosis should be made after allergy testing (blood or skin based). Secondary infection can develop after FAD. The veterinarian can perform cytology to diagnose any such infections.
Oral flea treatment should be administered to provide quick relief from fleas. Spinosad is known to kill all existing fleas within 30-60 minutes of administration, and then it should be followed up with a monthly treatment. In order to eliminate any secondary skin infection or alleviate itching, your vet may ask to use topical or oral antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and medicated shampoos.
- Vacuuming carpets or furniture, washing pet’s bed with soapy water can reduce the risk of flea infestation.
- Use flea sprays to treat outside areas (yard).
- Oral or topical flea preventatives should be used after consulting a veterinarian.
In general, pets get infected with tapeworms by swallowing a flea infected with tapeworm larvae. Once the flea is ingested the larval tapeworm develops into an adult tapeworm. The adult tapeworm is about 4-8 inches long and it is made up of many tiny segments. It can grow inside your dog’s intestines.
Once adult tapeworms grow, some of its segments fall off and pass through his stool. You may see them moving in their stool. These segments dry out and become hard and yellow specks that sticks around his bottom. As a result, dogs drag their bottoms across the floor or lick this area more than usual. Sometimes it can cause vomiting, and you can find worms in the thrown particles. In case of heavy infestation, dogs may lose weight.
It is usually diagnosed when moving segments are seen around the anus or into the surface of feces. Therefore, the vet asks to perform fecal examination when it is suspected.
There are several prescription drugs available to treat tapeworm infections. Praziquantel is one of the first-line choices for tapeworm treatment.
- Controls flea population both on your pets and in your home.
- Dispose your animal’s feces into trash regularly.
- Clean up after your pet, especially in your yard and in parks.
Consult a veterinarian for the suitable treatment plan for your pet.