Seeing fleas hopping around your floors and furniture can be unnerving. These tiny pests not only bite our pets but can affect human health as well. So how dangerous is a flea problem really? This guide covers the health risks of fleas, how to identify them, and why prompt removal by professionals is recommended.
Dangers and Health Risks of Fleas
Though tiny, fleas can pose some concerns beyond just being a nuisance:
- Flea bites – Flea bites on humans often appear around ankles and legs. They can be itchy and painful. Some people have severe allergic reactions.
- Anemia – Pets like cats and dogs can develop anemia from excessive flea bites over time. This requires veterinary care.
- Tapeworms – Fleas transmit tapeworm eggs and larvae to pets when grooming. Children are at risk if they accidentally ingest infected fleas.
- Disease transmission – Fleas can carry diseases like typhus, plague and Bartonellosis. Disease transmission to humans is rare in modern times, but risks remain.
- Allergens – Flea saliva, eggs and waste contain potent allergens. People allergic to fleas may have reactions like skin rashes and asthma flare ups.
For health and comfort, it’s smart to contact pest control professionals promptly at the first signs of fleas.
Identifying Fleas in the Home
Fleas are very small – only 1/8 inch long as adults. They have long back legs adapted for jumping long distances. Some clues that fleas may have infested your home:
- Bites on pets – Look closely at your cat or dog’s coat for signs of fleas. You may see fleas jumping off as well. Pets with fleas will excessively scratch, lick and bite at their skin.
- Bites on humans – Flea bites on people often appear around the ankles, legs, waist or wrists. Bites are red, itchy and have a small puncture point in the center.
- Flea dirt – Microscopic dried blood specks from flea feces. You’ll see it where pets sleep or rest. It appears as tiny dark specks that redden when wet.
- Adult fleas – Use a magnifying glass or flea comb through your pet’s coat to look for actual fleas. You may see them jumping on floors or furniture too.
Don’t delay. A flea infestation will multiply quickly in carpet and fabric furnishings. Professional treatment when they first appear gives the best control.
Dangers to Pets
Our furry companions face the most direct health risks from fleas:
- Skin irritation – Flea bites trigger severe itching, scratching and skin inflammation in pets. This allows secondary infections to occur.
- Anemia – Heavier flea infestations can lead to life-threatening anemia in pets as the fleas siphon off blood. Pets become weak and lethargic.
- Tapeworms – The most common intestinal parasite in pets. Tapeworm larvae transmitted through flea bites end up in the pet’s digestive tract.
Keep your pets protected with veterinarian-recommended flea prevention medications. Consult your vet at the first signs of fleas. Prompt treatment helps prevent these complications.
Risks to People
Fleas pose some direct and indirect risks to human health as well:
- Annoying bites – Flea bites on people often appear around the ankles and legs. Bites can remain itchy and irritating for over a week.
- Infections – Flea bites may become infected, especially if scratched. This can lead to impetigo, cellulitis, lymphangitis and other conditions requiring antibiotics.
- Allergies – Flea saliva, waste and debris in carpets contains potent allergens. People with flea allergies may develop skin rashes, experience asthma attacks, and other reactions.
- Tapeworms – Very small risk of humans ingesting tapeworm eggs after contact with infected flea waste. Children face the greatest risk.
- Diseases – Historical instances of fleas transmitting bubonic plague and typhus to people. Modern risk is very low in developed nations, but still possible.
While modern risks are low, fleas should never be tolerated. Protect your family’s health by contacting pest control experts immediately.
Getting Rid of Fleas from the Home
Eliminating a flea infestation requires a thorough, multi-step process best left to professionals:
1. Treatment of all pets – All dogs and cats must be treated with flea prevention medication prescribed by your vet. Even indoor-only pets can harbor fleas. This stops the cycle.
2. Vacuuming and laundering – Vacuum all floors, crevices, pet areas, bedding and furniture. Safely dispose of the vacuum contents right away. Wash all pet bedding and your bedding to remove eggs and waste.
3. Professional treatment – Contact a certified pest control company to treat your home. Experts will use insect growth regulators and targeted adulticide sprays or foggers to attack all stages of the flea lifecycle. Typically requires 2-3 treatments spaced 2 weeks apart.
4. Prevention and monitoring – Continue flea prevention on pets year round. Watch them closely for signs of reemergence. Retreatment may be needed in difficult infestations. Diatomaceous earth or nematodes can help.
With diligence and a professional pest control service, you can eliminate fleas and keep them from returning. The above steps are recommended for thorough removal from your home.
FAQs About Fleas
Here are answers to some common questions about flea removal and dangers:
How long can fleas live without a host?
Flea eggs and pupae can remain dormant without a host for many months to over a year in some cases. Adult fleas only live about a week to 10 days without a blood meal.
What home remedies kill fleas?
Diatomaceous earth, salt, diluted essential oils or borax can help but have limitations. Professional treatments are the gold standard.
Are fleas attracted to light?
Yes, fleas seem to be attracted to light. Shake out clothing outdoors on a light surface before bringing it inside to spot fleas. Keep indoor and outdoor lighting low during an infestation.
Can mosquito treatments kill fleas?
No, mosquito control measures do not kill fleas which have a totally different biology. You need flea-specific insecticides and an IGR (insect growth regulator).
How far can fleas jump?
Incredibly, fleas can jump up to 150 times their own body length – up to 8 inches high! Their legs and bodies are adapted for extreme jumping.
Can fleas live in human hair?
No. Human hair and scalp does not offer what fleas need to survive. However, fleas may pass through hair temporarily as they jump and travel.
Call Texas Bug Control Today
Don’t wait to get fleas under control. Texas Bug Control has expert exterminators who can treat the most challenging flea infestations across Central Texas. We use the latest techniques to eliminate fleas at the source and prevent their return. Our flea removal services keep families comfortable and pets protected year-round.
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