Fleas are fleas…bloodsuckers! These parasites would live off the blood of any warm blooded animal. Flea infestation is more common in cats and dogs not only because the furry bodies would be ideal environments for these pests but also because fleas prefer the higher body temperatures of these animals. Unlike lice, fleas cannot live on humans but these pesky blood suckers can be very troublesome because they can bite humans. These pesky parasites would take every opportunity available to get a blood meal. Fleas would usually attack human’s lower legs though other human body parts are attacked as well.
There are 5 types of fleas – Xenopsylla cheopis (rat flea), Echidnophaga gallinacean (hen flea), Ctenocephalides canis (dog fleas), Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea) and Pulex irritans which are known as human fleas. Pulex irritans prefer human blood but because of hygienic practices these human fleas are no longer common in today’s living quarters. Humans though are not totally free from flea bites as the types of fleas that infest household pets also feed on human blood. There are cat fleas and there are dog fleas. Cat fleas though are more prevalent as it was known that the types of fleas that commonly infest dogs are cat fleas. In a household with dog and cat pets it is highly probable that both animals will be infested with cat fleas. Cat fleas will not thrive on humans but they will certainly feed on human blood. Cat fleas are known to bite humans!
Flea bites can make the pet uncomfortable but a few fleas would not really affect the quality of life of the pet. However, fleas can multiply rapidly as an adult female that have had a blood meal can lay about 60 eggs a day. Fleas can reproduce at a very fast rate so that ten fleas that managed to jump into the cat’s body would be able to start a heavy infestation. Over 250, 000 fleas in different stages of development can be produced in a month by the ten fleas that started the infestation.
Fleas are dark colored insects with flattened bodies. These wingless bloodsucking insects are about 1/8 of an inch in size but they have a pair of long hind legs that are adapted for jumping. Fleas have the ability to jump about 200 times their body size. In humans, the ankles and the lower legs are usually the body parts bitten by these pesky insects. Other body parts get bitten too when humans cuddle a flea infested pet. Humans would not really feel that they are being bitten by fleas. What will be noticed would be small reddened raised spot that is very similar to a mosquito bite. Flea bites would commonly appear in clusters. Humans’ common response to a flea bite is to scratch the itchy bump
. Giving in to the urge to scratch the bitten area can lead to infection. Effects of cat flea bites would be more severe if the person bitten is allergic to flea saliva. The flea bites would remain inflamed and itchy for several weeks. Excessive scratching can lead to the development of secondary infection. Cat flea infestation does not occur in humans but cat fleas can transmit bacterial, viral and rickettsial diseases to humans through their bites. Murine Thyphus, stomach flu are disease that can be transmitted by fleas. Bubonic plague can be transmitted by a flea that has recently fed on a rodent that has this disease.
Flea bites on humans are indications that the pets are infested by these blood suckers. Flea control methods are extremely necessary not only to create a flea-fee environment for the pet (and for humans) but also to prevent the transmission of serious diseases.