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Dangers Fleas Pose to Homeowners and Pets


When fleas appear in your Missouri home, it can be a nightmare. Fleas are incessant pests that reproduce quickly. A single female flea can lay as many as 50 eggs a day, under the right conditions. And she is able to live as long as 100 days. That means that one female flea can produce as many as 5,000 fleas in your home. When you also consider that it only takes two to three weeks for fleas to develop from egg to adult, the numbers start to look a little scary. That is why it is so hard to control a flea infestation, and why many homeowners turn to a pest control company for fast relief. But there is another reason you may want to consider calling a pest professional when fleas appear. Those fleas could make you and your pets sick.



Flea larvae feed on the dried feces of adult fleas, called flea dirt. But they can feed on other feces. If they feed on the droppings of a rodent that has tapeworm, the larvae can become infected. As those larvae develop into pupae, the tapeworm develops in the stomach of the pupa and is present in the adult fleas that emerge. If these fleas attach to your pet, and your pet accidentally consumes one while grooming, it can result in a tapeworm infection. Humans can also get tapeworm when a flea is accidentally consumed. It is important to recognize the danger of having a rodent infestation at the same time as a flea infestation. You should also keep an eye out for symptoms. In humans, tapeworms usually cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, weakness, diarrhea, inflammation of the intestines, a loss of appetite, sleeplessness, dizziness, and weight loss, and there may be more serious symptoms and complications. Consult a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms during a flea infestation.  


This illness, which is produced by the bacteria Rickettsia typhi, can lead to general malaise or develop into a more significant sickness. When contracted by a human it can cause fever, chills, loss of appetite, body pain, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, cough, and rash. This illness can also be produced by the bacteria Rickettsia felis, which is linked to the cat flea. Cat fleas are the most common fleas found on cats and dogs in the United States. This disease does not present the same threat to cats and dogs as it does humans. If your pet gets sick with Murine typhus, you can expect them to have a slight fever for 2 or 3 days and then recover quickly.  


This is another illness humans can get but doesn't have the same effect on pets. You can contract this disease from your cat in a few ways. The bacterium Bartonella henselae can pass from your cat to you through a bite, scratch, or saliva. The transmission by saliva is more difficult than the other two. Your cat has to lick an open wound on your body or get his or her saliva in your eye. There was an interesting news story out of Ohio recently of a woman who contracted cat scratch disease. She woke up one morning, blind in one eye. This blindness was a mystery until her skilled doctor connected the dots after hearing the woman talk about her cat.  


Along with tapeworms, your pets can get sick from flea allergy dermatitis, bartonellosis, and anemia. Tapeworm manifests itself in pets the same way it does us. Flea allergy dermatitis is an illness of the skin that usually affects dogs that have fleas. Bartonellosis can impact dogs and cats, and can be caused by at least 22 named species of bacteria from the genus Bartonella, of which cat scratch disease comes from. Some forms of bartonellosis can present serious health problems for dogs and cats. Anemia is the result of blood being drawn by all of those tiny little fleas.   Fleas are more than just irritating pests. They bring with them a potential for illness. This potential is increased if a home also has an infestation of rodents. When fleas or rodents appear in your home, contact a professional for effective control to reduce the risk of illness.   For assistance with flea or rodent control in St. Louis, give us a call today!

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