The Dangers of Fleas

Most people look at fleas as an annoying itchy nuisance. However, they can pose a more serious problem. Fleas carry a number of serious diseases that can affect both humans and animals. Here are a list of possibilities as well as symptoms that you should keep an eye out for.

For Humans:

Bubonic Plague

This is the same plague that was known as the Black Death in history books. Currently there are about seven reported cases in the United States each year, and the majority of them are out west. Although this was once an often fatal disease, antibiotics has made it possible to treat this disease effectively. Some signs of bubonic plague include:

  • Fever and Chills
  • Swollen tender lymph nodes
  • Skin may turn black if it develops into septicemic plague
  • Chest pain or coughing

If you suspect that you have the bubonic plague, you should visit your health care provider immediately. The biggest sign is the swollen, tender lymph nodes. A round of antibiotics can stop it from getting worse and leading to more complications.

Allergic Reaction

Some humans may have a severe allergic reaction to fleas. This reaction will increasingly get worse with each incident of exposure. Some symptoms are:

  • Hives
  • Intense itching
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing

If you expect a severe allergic reaction to fleas, you should seek immediate medical attention. It can be life-threatening if you go into anaphylactic shock. If you cannot breathe, call 911. Milder reactions may be treated with allergy medicine, but you should seek the advice of a medical professional.

For Animals:

Tapeworms

Fleas can carry and spread tapeworms from one animal to another. Usually in order to catch the tapeworm, the infected flea needs to be ingested. Usually an animal will do this when trying to scratch or groom themselves. Here are some signs of an infestation:

  • Dogs will scoot their bottoms across the ground
  • Tapeworms may be visible in their stool
  • Weight loss and decreased appetite.
  • Lethargy
  • Poor skin and coat conditions

A veterinarian can determine if your dog has tapeworms by completing a fecal test. They can treat your dog with a de-wormer and then retest to make sure that everything has cleared up.

Prevention:

The key to preventing these diseases and serious complications to prevent fleas from biting you or your animals. Using flea medicine on your cats and dogs each month can help prevent fleas from entering your home, since the fleas should die once they attach themselves to your pet.

If you suspect that your animal has contracted fleas, you will need to treat it immediately by giving it a flea bath and treating the skin. You can also contact your vet to see if further treatment or testing is necessary.

In addition to treating your pet, you should likely treat your home for fleas. Fleas multiply rapidly and can quickly spread in your home. You may notice fleas because you have a series of bites on your ankles. Although many people use flea powder to treat for a flea infestation, it is best to have a professional come out and treat your home. This will guarantee that the problem will be taken care of the first time and stop the spread of any diseases or complications that may come with fleas. It’s extremely important that you also make sure your living area is regularly sprayed by flea exterminators such as Mosquito Tek or EcoTek Termite and Pest Control.

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