Common flea myth #4

The fourth installment of common myths I hear about fleas

Flea Myth #4: “Cat and dog fleas don’t transmit diseases.” A number of important diseases are transmitted by fleas.

Cat scratch disease is caused by the organism Bartonella henselae.  It is transmitted between cats by fleas. Many cats are infected without showing any signs, but they can serve as a source of human infection. Scratches and bite wounds from infected cats may result in cat scratch fever.

Tapeworms are most often acquired by cats with the help of fleas, which they ingest during the normal course of their grooming behavior.

Murine (endemic) typhus, caused by can Rickettsia typhi, be transmitted by cat fleas that infest your pets or wildlife that may share your environment. Most case in the US are reported in southern California, Texas, and Hawaii. Signs in people include headache, rash, and body aches that may last for months if untreated.

Rickettsia felis may cause fever in people, and is considered a disease of emerging importance.  It is also transmitted by the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, the most common flea of dogs and cats in the US.

Myth #5 next week!

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Jon Plant, DVM, is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, founder of SkinVet Clinic and developer of RESPIT, regionally-specific immunotheray for atopic dermatitis of dogs and cats. He is a member of the International Committee on Atopic Diseases of Animals, the past President of the Portland Veterinary Medical Association and the Dermatology Section Editor of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association.

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