These are small insects (1-3mm) that are laterally flattened and cannot fly, but have an impressive ability to jump huge distances relative to their size. In southern Africa there are about 100 species out of 2 800 known species globally. All fleas have piercing and sucking mouthparts which enables them to feed on blood. This makes them significant pests from a medical perspective as they are known vectors for transmission of bubonic plague and typhus among others in humans. They are also intermediate hosts for dog tapeworms and transmit a myriad of viral and bacterial pathogens.
Flea problems almost always emanate from pets that haven’t been kept under a routine flea control program or from areas that have had high rodent and/or poultry populations. Moving into a household that formerly had dogs or cats usually results in a very noticeable flea population. Female fleas lay eggs on the fur of their host which find their way into the soil, these eggs hatch after 2-12 days into a maggot like larvae. These larvae will have 3 moults before pupating (about 15 days). It is the pupae which are resilient, remaining dormant for over a year in wait of ideal conditions and a host animal to trigger a hatching. It is the vibrations of passers-by that trigger the hatching, which can be quite spectacular in heavy infestations, turning legs black in a matter of seconds. Severe infestations are capable of killing cats and dogs from anemia (blood loss) alone, never mind the potential pathogenic diseases. Warm temperatures and humidity are ideal for flea reproduction and development where their entire reproductive cycle may be completed within two weeks. The most common species is the Cat Flea, which is the main flea pest of cats and dogs.
How serious is a flea problem?
Both humans and pets can suffer from flea bites, causing skin inflammation and irritation (sometimes for weeks), allergies, and both human and animal diseases. Pets that have a reaction to flea bites can suffer from hair loss as a result of frequent scratching and biting by the animal, and can cause anemia in extreme cases.
What are the signs of a flea problem?
Itchy bites on legs and feet
Fleas are typically 1-3mm long and can be seen with the naked eye. Check your pets’ underside where the fur is thinner, fleas are easier to see there. At the base of the tail is another good place to find fleas and their droppings.
Heavy flea infestations can be noted when washing a dog; the flea droppings turn the water red as they dissolve.
Are your pets scratching a lot? This could be a symptom of flea bites.
What we will do
Typically we treat internal areas such as carpets and parquet flooring, your pets bedding and kennels as well as external areas where pets frequently sleep. In addition, we also recommend the use of systemic medications that can be given to dogs that will kill adult fleas. As the dog/cat is the main vector for the reproduction of fleas, it should also be used to control them by dipping or use of systemic medications. In severe cases multiple treatments may be required to obtain control.
Flea infestations require a comprehensive treatment plan that should target all aspects of the flea life-cycle, which needs to incorporate your pet. In instances where you do not have a pet, and have moved somewhere where there were animals, and an uncontrolled flea cycle taking place, achieving control will be difficult without an animal vector. Please call us to discuss a treatment plan tailored to the issue you face. Quotes are free.