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​Four Unexpected Flea Diseases You Need to Know

   by james on 23 Nov 2022 |
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Four Unexpected Flea Diseases You Need to Know

Fleas are simple to disregard. Fleas don't seem to be as dangerous as ticks, which are notorious for transmitting Lyme disease to both dogs and humans. The tiny bloodsuckers are typically viewed by us and our pets as a nuisance rather than a major threat to anyone's health.

But both humans and animals can contract a startling array of diseases from fleas. Through their bites and when they are consumed by the animals they prey upon (such as during self-grooming), fleas can seriously impair both you and your pet's health.

Murine Typhus

Although cats that come into contact with infected fleas can bring these disease vectors home, rats are the primary host for the flea species that transmits murine typhus. The Texas Department of State Health Services claims that typhus is typically spread to people through flea bites. The bugs typically urinate at the same time they bite.

Rickettsia typhi, a type of bacteria that can be found in feces, can enter the body through a bite wound or by being scratched in the bite location.

The symptoms of typhus include headache, fever, nausea, and body aches. You can get a rash that starts on your body's trunk and extends to your arms and legs five or six days after the first symptoms. The Texas Department of State Health Services advises seeking medical attention right away if you suspect you have murine typhus. Antibiotics can be used to treat the condition, but if you wait too long, you might need to be hospitalized. The illness could last for several months if untreated.

Murine typhus cases are prevalent in hot, muggy places with big rat populations. According to Chris Van Deusen, press representative for the Texas Department of State Health Services, 324 cases—including one death—were reported to the state's health authorities in 2015. Since 2012, Texas has seen at least one death from murine typhus each year.

Since the symptoms are rather widespread, waiting to seek treatment may result in poorer outcomes, according to Van Deusen. More severe cases are "related with other illnesses, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and a history of alcohol addiction."

14 murine typhus instances, all without fatalities, have been reported to the California Department of Public Health so far this year from four counties, according to a department spokeswoman. The state typically sees 50 instances each year, mostly in the Orange and Los Angeles county suburbs.

Murine typhus is unusual elsewhere.

Dr. Lee Herold, chief medical officer for the DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland, Oregon, claims that it is "virtually nonexistent" in the Pacific Northwest.


Mycoplasma haemofelis

Cats can contract the parasitic bacterial disease Mycoplasma haemofelis (M. haemofelis) from tick, mosquito, and flea bites. According to Herold, M. haemofelis, an infection of the red blood cells, can make cats ill with fever and anemia. Additionally, there is some proof that M. haemofelis can infect people, particularly individuals with weakened immune systems. As equal opportunity eaters, fleas can infect both you and your pet, spreading the parasite to both of you.

Red blood cells from the infected cat get attached to M. haemofelis, which causes the immune system to identify and mark them for elimination. According to Herold, anemia is typically caused by the enormous amount of red blood cells that are destroyed.

Antibiotics are frequently recommended by veterinarians to treat sick animals. In severe situations, cats could need an antibiotic first, then a blood transfusion.

According to Herold, some cats require steroid drugs to stop their immune systems from attacking their own red blood cells. Four to six weeks may be needed for recovery.


Tenya

Tapeworms, one of the most dreadful parasites, live in the intestines of humans, dogs, and cats. When animals groom themselves or other animals, they may swallow infected adult fleas, which can cause pets to contract tapeworms. According to Herold, cats can contract the illness by consuming contaminated mice.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children may contract the illness by inadvertently ingesting an infected flea, which they may come across while playing outside, even though it is relatively uncommon in adults (CDC). Proglottids, or segments of tapeworms, are excreted by both children and animals.

Cat Scratch Disease

This illness is intriguing. The bacteria that causes cat scratch fever, Bartonella henselae (B. henselae), is rather typical in felines. The CDC estimates that roughly 40% of cats, particularly kittens, may contract the illness at some point in their life.

Serious symptoms can appear in certain cats. If your cat is vomiting, appears lethargic, has red eyes, enlarged lymph nodes, or has a decreased appetite, the CDC advises getting it to the doctor.

The majority of cats never become sick, and those who do usually have a fever for two to three days before fully recovering. Thus, even if your cat appears to be in excellent health, it may nonetheless make you unwell. Cat scratch fever can strike people even when the cat shows no symptoms, according to Herold.

According to the CDC, cats can spread the disease to people by biting or scratching them so hard that they break the skin, or by licking them while they are close to or on wounds or scabs.

Last year, Janese Walters of Toledo, Ohio, awoke one morning to discover she was blind in one eye, a remarkable circumstance that was covered by numerous media sites. After a month of testing, physicians were unable to identify the origin of the blindness—until the woman revealed her cat to them. When they were able to link the infection to the B. henselae bacterium, they came to the diagnosis of cat scratch disease and the fact that her cat had licked her eye had caused her to lose vision in one eye.

The condition can, in extremely rare instances, harm the brain, eyes, heart, or other internal organs; however, the CDC notes that these problems are more likely to strike young children and those with low immune systems.

 
 
How to Keep Fleas Away from Your Home

The right flea control method can protect you, your pet, and the rest of your family while also improving your pet's quality of life. Choosing the best therapy relies on your dogs and your lifestyle, even though there are many trustworthy and safe solutions on the market, according to Herold.

Herold, who uses a spot-on flea solution on her dog, notes that many pet parents choose to use topical products to keep fleas off their animals. But some pet owners might find it difficult to use solutions that need to be applied on a monthly basis.

Another alternative for both pets and their owners is oral medicine.

There isn't a one approach that works for everyone, according to Herold. "Depending on your household, your veterinarian may give a recommendation."

Families with both cats and dogs must take extra precautions to prevent medication mixing. According to Herold, products made for dogs that include permethrin can be toxic to cats.

Cleaning Your Environment to Make it a Flea-Free Zone

Herold notes that getting rid of fleas on your pet is just the beginning.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) points out that treating your pet alone won't solve the flea problem because they spend the majority of their lives on your pet.

When fleas that are breeding in your home mature and attach to your pet, the infestation may return. The AVMA advises meticulously cleaning your pet's sleeping area as well as vacuuming the furniture and floors your pet frequently uses. According to the AVMA, cleaning and vacuuming these places will assist get rid of and kill fleas at all phases of development.

According to Herold, "if you can repeatedly remove eggs from carpeting, you next have to remove the vacuum bag... that must leave your home."

It can take a while to completely eradicate fleas from your home, so effort and patience are essential for success.

Most strategies require time, according to Herold. "Fleas won't disappear in a single day. Even if you bombed your home, there would still be fleas in it.

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