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Can Fleas Live on Humans?


If you have a pet at home, you would probably be aware of how bad a flea infection can be for your pet. Ever wondered if after your pet is treated for the flea infection any of you in the house could get affected? Here are the facts:

Types of fleas:

  • Cat fleas and dog fleas:

These are the most common types that live on and affect your pets. These prefer furry hosts for their survival.

  • Rat flea:

They are the ones found on rats. These are the main cause of plague.

  • Hen fleas:

These affect the poultry organisms.

  • Human fleas:

These are not very common given today’s sanitation conditions. They are more prevalent in the forests. Sometimes farms with pigpens might be infected with human fleas.

How can fleas affect humans?

The most common fleas that humans get exposed to are probably from their pets. The human body isn’t suitable for the growth and multiplication of fleas. As human beings are free of fur, unlike cats and dogs, fleas don’t reproduce and survive on human beings. But they can surely bite and feed on human blood. If your pet has a flea infestation and has more than one flea on his body that has been there for a while, unnoticed, chances are that it might have jumped on to the humans in the house as well. Flea bites are itchy and might cause mild rashes. But the flea, with not much fur to hang on, might just bite, feed on your blood and fall off.

Rat fleas can transmit infections to human beings. This is the pressing reason to get rid of any rat in or around your home.

There is another type of flea called the Chigoe flea mostly found in the tropics. They feed on human blood, live and burrow into the skin and cause swelling, itching and other problems. In the worst case, if left untreated for long, it might even lead to loss of toenails.

What to do if you suspect a flea infection:

As we see, the main fleas of concern are the pet fleas and the rat fleas. Getting rid of rats can remove the chances of rat flea infections. But no matter how careful you are and how clean your pet is, he would surely get infected by a flea sometimes. What should you do then?

  • Fleas can easily be spotted if you carefully observe your pet. The moment you see him getting itchy or losing a lot of fur, if you suspect a flea infection, take steps to get rid of the flea.
  • Brush your pet’s coat with a flea comb to completely remove any flea, flea excreta or flea cocoon that might be left on his fur
  • If it is an infestation, use a prescribed flea powder or medication
  • Till your pet is completely out of the infection, avoid allowing him to sleep on your bed. This is just to safeguard the humans at home. As human hair could be a comparatively safe hiding place for the flea than a human body.

When your pet is being treated for flea infection, clean your house as well as the medication might cause the flea to jump off. And if you suspect that you have been bitten by a flea, a warm shower to rid the flea of your body. Remember that children who are on the floor most of the time are more prone to get fleas from the pets. So keep an eye on them and look for any sudden rashes. In most cases, pet fleas do not cause any illness in human beings, though.

So if you have a flea infested pet at home, treat him immediately to rid of any fleas. Then deep clean your house of any flea or flea cocoon that might have fallen off before you noticed. In normal situations, fleas that fall off might bite the human and move to a more hairy, furrier host where it can live and breed.

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