Much attention has been given of late to Lyme disease, a tick-borne illness that's transmitted when the parasites feed on human hosts. Lyme disease is undoubtedly a growing concern in the U.S., with thousands of people being infected each year, but little attention is given to flea-borne illnesses. Though these diseases are less common, they still exist and present a real danger to those infected. Pet owners are at particular risk for flea-borne illnesses, as dogs and cats are frequent hosts to fleas. Most people traditionally associate fleas with pet afflictions, such as excessive itching, fur loss and irritated skin. However, in addition to protecting your pet from these uncomfortable symptoms of flea infestation, you should consider your own health when taking preventative measures against fleas.
The dangers of fleas
There are two main diseases that fleas can transmit to humans: plague and typhus. While both of these may sound like ancient illnesses, you may be surprised to learn that outbreaks are still known to occur within the U.S.
According to the medical entomology department at Perdue University, there are roughly 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague worldwide each year. The U.S. sees only a fraction of these numbers, with almost all cases diagnosed in the southwestern states. Wild rodents living in arid regions are the preferred hosts of fleas carrying plague, so pet owners in drier areas should be especially sure to protect their pets from fleas. Plague can affect both humans and pets, though it's treatable if caught early. Symptoms include chills, fever and difficulty breathing.
Typhus is most common in Texas, according to the same researchers at Perdue University. Around 20 to 80 cases are diagnosed each year. Rodents residing in urban areas are typically carriers of typhus within the U.S. Symptoms of typhus include nausea, headache, backache and joint pain. Typhus, like plague, is treatable, plus fatality rates are extremely low. Of course, if you notice any of the aforementioned symptoms developing, don't hesitate to get tested for the rare illness.
There are many great products that help keep fleas away from your pet and your home. Try Hartz® UltraGuard Plus® Flea & Tick Spray for Dogs, which is formulated to kill fleas and their larvae residing in your dog's coat.
This content is provided by the flea prevention experts at Hartz. From flea drops to flea treatments for the home and yard, we have the solution for you.