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Alternative namesDog fleas; Siphonaptera
DefinitionFleas are wingless, blood-sucking insects that feeds on dog, cats, humans and other species.
Causes, incidence, and risk factorsFleas prefer dog and cat hosts, but in the absence of a preferred host will use humans or other available animals as a host. Pet owners may not be bothered by fleas until their pet is away for an extended period of time and the fleas, in the absence of their normal host, begin to bite the owners. Bites frequently occur around the waist, ankles, armpits, and in the bend of the elbows and knees.
Signs and testsNo testing is necessary.
TreatmentThe objective of treatment is to break the flea life cycle by treating the home, the pets, and the outside environment with insecticide. Home foggers and flea collars are not always effective. Birds and fish must be protected during spraying. If home treatments are ineffective, professional extermination may be needed.
Calamine lotion helps relieve itching.
Expectations (prognosis)Once fleas are established, eliminating them requires persistence. The problem will continue until the fleas are eliminated.
ComplicationsScratching can lead to a secondary skin infection.
Calling your health care providerApply home treatment and call your health care provider if there are signs of complications.
PreventionPrevention may not be possible in all cases. Use of insecticides may be helpful if fleas are common in your area. Professional extermination may be necessary in some cases.
Update Date: 4/22/2003Elizabeth Hait, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT