Fleas

There are over 100 species of fleas around us but there is only one that we really have to worry about and that causes the most discomfort. It is called the Cat Flea and it is the flea that is most likely to be found on our beloved pets (dogs, cats, rabbits etc). People view fleas as a burden more than anything; however, a heavy flea infestation can be extremely lethal. Conditions brought about via a flea infestation include: flea allergic dermatitis, flea anaemia, feline infectious anaemia (life-threatening blood parasite), cat scratch fever (the infected cat can make a person sick with this condition) and common tapeworm infection.

Fleas love to develop in the cracks between boards of hard wood floors, however their harbourage sites are generally where the pets sleep. This makes it easier for newly hatched larvae to find their food source. Flea infestations can begin simply from someone or an outsider pet entering the household. An adult female flea can lay up to 40 eggs daily, and are usually laid on the host where they fall off to hatch in the surrounding area. The eggs then hatch into larvae which is the stage 57% of fleas are in at any given time. When in the larval stage, they are also more likely to pick up tapeworm eggs as they graze for food. Only 8% of larvae make it to the pupae stage, however once they have spun cocoons they are invincible.

The newly developed adult flea can remain in its cocoon until it detects a nearby host. It does this by sensing vibrations, CO2 gradients and sound and light patterns. One is most likely find fleas in their home if they have an increased number of pets, if the beds of the pets are neglected, if one has wall-to-wall carpeting and if one has central heating. Other than spreading various diseases to people, flea bites can also be very irritating due to itchiness and can lead to allergic reactions.

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