As pet owners, we know that fleas are annoying and can cause itching and discomfort for our furry friends. However, fleas can also transmit diseases that can be harmful to both pets and humans. Here are four surprising flea-borne illnesses that you need to know about:
This bacterial infection is transmitted by fleas that infest rodents, such as rats. Symptoms include fever, headache, and muscle aches. Once the infected flea bites a person or an animal, they defecate at the site. These bacteria enter the body through the wound or when the person or animal scratches the bite area.
Once your pet comes in contact with infected fleas, symptoms of this disease can appear in two weeks. These include nausea, body aches, fever with chills, rash, vomiting, and loss of appetite. However, people can recover without treatment sometimes, and severe illness is uncommon. However, if left untreated, it can lead to one or more organ damage, including brain, heart, kidney, etc.
Your vet will perform a blood test to diagnose the disease.
Antibiotics are commonly used to treat flea-borne typhus.
- There is no vaccine for flea-borne typhus, so try to avoid coming in contact with fleas.
- Use Flea prevention treatments like spot-on, collars, or oral.
- Always wear gloves or wear full-sleeved clothes while contacting an ill animal.
Cat Scratch Disease
This bacterial infection is caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae, carried by felines. Kittens (less than one year) can have more of this infection and spread it to humans. Cats can get this infection from flea bites, and flea dirt gets into the wounds. Cats pick up the infected fleas by scratching the flea bite area or by biting and carrying the bacteria in teeth or nails and transmitting them to humans when they bite or scratch them.
Some common symptoms include a bump at the bite area, sore throat, headache, weight loss, low-grade fever, etc. It can cause rare complications which affect the heart, brain, eyes, and other internal organs in humans. It can cause cat heart inflammation and develop in the urinary system or mouth.
Once you see any symptoms, consult your doctor. You may need to go through a physical examination. You must undergo a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) blood test for an accurate diagnosis.
Your cat needs antibiotics in severe conditions, but you must consult your vet for the ideal result.
- Trim your cat's nails regularly.
- Avoid playing roughly with your cats so they won't bite or scratch.
- Wash your hands with water and soap after playing with your cat.
- Consult your vet first before using any flea prevention treatment.
- Use pest control or a vacuum to minimize the flea population in your home.
- Bring your cat for regular check-ups, and keep your cat indoors.
Usually, pets get infected by consuming fleas infected with tapeworm larvae. Once your pet has ingested the larvae, tapeworms develop into adult tapeworms. That is about 4-8 inches long, and it is made up of many tiny segments. It can grow in your pet's intestines.
The signs of tapeworm infection in animals can vary depending on the severity of the disease. However, common symptoms may include abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. Sometimes, tapeworms may be visible in the feces or around the anus. Humans may experience mild symptoms such as abdominal pain and nausea.
The diagnosis of tapeworm infection is typically done through a stool sample analysis. First, the stool is examined for tapeworm eggs or segments. However, tapeworms may not always be detected in stool samples, and other diagnostic methods, such as imaging tests, may be necessary in some cases.
Treatment of tapeworm infection involves using medication that will kill the tapeworms. These medications are typically effective and safe, but side effects may occur, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting.
- Good hygiene practices include washing your hands before eating and after using the bathroom and cooking meat thoroughly.
- Controlling flea populations can help prevent tapeworm transmission, especially in animals.
Mycoplasma haemofelis is a bacterial infection that affects cats. It is transmitted through flea bites and can cause serious health problems if left untreated. Therefore, understanding the signs, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of this infection is essential for cat owners.
The signs of Mycoplasma haemofelis infection in cats can include lethargy, anemia, fever, and weight loss. In severe cases, cats may experience jaundice and have pale gums. However, it is important to note that these symptoms may only appear several weeks after the initial infection.
Diagnosis of Mycoplasma haemofelis infection in cats is typically done through a blood test and examination of a blood smear under a microscope. A positive result for the presence of the bacteria confirms the diagnosis.
Treatment of Mycoplasma haemofelis infection in cats involves using antibiotics. Supportive care, such as blood transfusions, may also be necessary in severe cases.
- Minimizing exposure to infected cats and controlling flea populations.
- Regular flea control measures, such as topical treatments or flea collars, can effectively prevent bacteria transmission.
- Avoiding contact with stray cats and keeping your cat indoors can reduce the risk of infection.
To protect yourself and your pets from these flea-borne illnesses, keeping your home and pets flea-free is essential. Talk to your veterinarian about flea prevention and treatment options, and keep your home clean and clutter-free.