Fleas are small, wingless jumping insects that feed on pets and human blood. It is highly prolific and may produce up to 2000 eggs in its lifetime. Because they can produce up to twice their body weight in eggs every day, female fleas must consume large quantities of blood, about 15 times their body weight, daily. Significant blood loss can occur from a heavy infested host animals.
Flea infestation would cause a number of skin conditions, includes :
- Biting or scratching
- Excessive grooming
- Hair loss
- Flea allergy dermatitis – Intense reaction due to hypersensitivity to substance in flea saliva.
Flea allergic dermatitis in a dog
Fleas are the intermediate host for a common tapeworm of dogs and cats (Dipylidium caninum). Flea larvae ingest tapeworm eggs and dogs and cats, in turn, ingest the infected fleas when they groom themselves. Tapeworm is an intestinal worm and they can infect human too.
Other than that, fleas also serve as reservoirs for a bacteria called Bartonella henselae, which in turns causing a zoonotic disease in human- cat scratch disease. Classic cat scratch disease presents as swollen regional lymph nodes, fever and headaches 1-2 weeks following a scratch or a bite by cats.
Swollen regional lymph node in human
Many people are surprised to learn that the most common flea on both dogs and cats is the so-called cat flea. The cat flea is, in fact, the most common ectoparasite of dogs and cats. The dog flea is found infrequently on dogs and almost none on cats. Cats and dog fleas will feed on human temporarily if their preferred host is not readily available and it may cause flea bite allergy in human too.
Life cycle of fleas