Flea-borne disease in Texas

‘Flea-borne disease in Texas’. A sometimes fatal bacterial disease carried by fleas and lice appears to be spreading more often, and over a larger swath of territory in Texas than it did a decade ago, a new study suggests.
The authors aren’t sure how to explain the increase in murine typhus cases, though one suggested the “rampant” population of opossums in Texas may not be helping. The flea that can transmit the bacteria, called Ctenocephalides felis or the cat flea, infests opossums as well as rodents.

The pestcontrol.me.uk team keep up to date with developments in pest control. Furthermore, an understanding of the behaviour and biology of pests helps our experts design effective control strategies.

How to eliminate a flea infestation in your home

There may be a flea-borne disease in Texas but how does it affect UK residents? Although a flea infestation in your home is unwelcome, fleas (Siphonaptera) themselves are interesting creatures. Currently, the world high jump record is 2.45 m., Javier Sotomayor set the record in 1993. Fleas are the longest and highest jumpers, relative to their size, of all animals. They they can jump 220 times their own body length and 150 times their own body height. Consequently, Sotomayor would have to jump 250m in the air to compete with a human sized flea. Additionally, other amazing flea facts include:

  • fleas withstand extreme gravitational forces. The tiny animals can withstand rates of acceleration 75 times greater than a rocket.
  • a flea can jump continuously for 25000 times in a row.
  • fleas can lift 150 times their own body weight.
  • female fleas consume 18 times their own body weight in blood on a daily basis. 
  • the female flea lays up to 2000 eggs.
  • the flea habitat is the skin of warm-blooded animals.

Flea-borne diseases: What are the characteristics of fleas?

In order to control flea infestations in your home it is important to learn about their physiology and behaviour.

Fleas are parasites of warm-blooded animals and birds. They do not have wings, they have an elongate, thin shape. Fleas are grey to dark brown in colour. Fleas suck blood from their host animal and their shape enables them to borrow into hair, fur or feathers, hence, fleas are very difficult to remove. In addition, the flea is capable of leaping considerable distances to access a food source.

The flea larvae lives on dust and fluff, feeding upon animal protein, namely, skin particles and feathers. Larvae like to feed on the blood rich droppings of adult fleas.

The Larvae pupates within loose silk cocoons. After stimulation from a potential host, the flea emerges from the cocoon. Walking into an empty house or long vacated room may activate dormant pupae.

Flea-borne diseases? Which types of fleas attack humans?

There are six main types of flea that cause concerns for humans: 

  • Human flea. The human flea is 2 mm long and glossy, dark brown in colour. 
  • Cat flea. The cat flea has a less shiny external appearance compared with the human flea. 
  • Dog flea.  The dog flea has a similar appearance to the cat flea. Both species are interchangeable. They will both bite humans.

It is possible that a combination of types may cause flea infestations in your home. Furthermore, there are three less common types of flea in the British Isles:  

  • Rat flea 
  • Bird flea 
  • Rabbit flea

Detecting flea infestations

The most obvious sign of flea infestation are small black specks. The specks are flea waste matter. Your pets will be continually scratching if they are the source of the infestation. Indeed, by combing your pet’s fur, faecal matter and adult fleas may be released. By treating pet fur you will not solve the infestation problem. 90% of the fleas live in the surrounding areas.

Homes that do not have pets are prone to flea infestation. The most likely cause is that you have had friends visiting with pets who have fleas. Furthermore, infestation may occur if you move into a house that has had cats or dogs living there in the past. Moreover, your house maybe infested with human fleas.

Potential flea-borne diseases: Distribution and habitat of fleas

Flea infestation starts with the eggs. Flea eggs are only about half a millimetre in size, consequently, the eggs are very difficult to see with the naked eye. An infested property provides a variety of locations for the fleas to lay their eggs. Favoured locations for egg laying include your pet’s fur and its bedding. The eggs hatch in 1 to 2 weeks. The larvae feed on dead insects skin particles and the droppings of adult fleas. The larvae live in dark humid places, for example, carpets and animal bedding. After 3-weeks, the adult fleas emerge. In contrast, flea eggs may lie dormant and hatch in response to vibrations made by a passing host. The complete life cycle of the flea normally takes 4 weeks. In addition, entering and disturbing an unoccupied property may lead to a mass, immediate infestation.

Are fleas a risk to humans?

There may be a flea-borne disease in Texas, but in the UK, flea infestations are a serious problem for animals. Fleas transmit diseases and parasitic worms. Flea bites cause irritation and discomfort for humans. 

How to get rid of fleas

Above all, prevention is always the best option. Check your pets for a flea infestation regularly. Vacuum your carpets regularly. If you already have an infestation, the first thing you need to do is identify the source of the problem. In most cases, a pet is responsible for the flea infestation. It is important to consult your vet to confirm the infestation and recommend appropriate treatment.

After cleaning it is important to empty the vacuum cleaner. Using a sealed bag, the vacuum cleaner contents must disposed of carefully. Clean your vacuum cleaner thoroughly. Replace the used filters. In order to clean the vacuum, it must be sprayed and disinfected thoroughly. Steam cleaning carpets can be effective in controlling larvae. Although you will need professional help to tackle larvae in hard to reach areas beneath skirting boards and underlay. 

In conclusion, recent and localised infections maybe treated with specialist products. These products are currently available from your vet or general purpose spray supplier. If you have a more extensive or persistent infestation call pestcontrol.me.uk, the professionals will control flea infestations in your home. Pestcontrol.me.uk will treat your home with a professional residual insecticide.    

The pestcontrol.me.uk process: Guard against potential flea borne diseases

The flea control experts from Pestcontrol.me.uk follow a trusted and safe procedure:

  • Firstly, we complete a full risk assessment. 
  • Our technicians wear full personal protective equipment moth infestation treatments. 
  • It takes one or two visits to complete the treatment process. This period may vary depending on the level of activity. The treatment has a 100% success rate.
  • Our technicians use a residual insecticide fog machine to apply the treatment. This method ensures that the treatment reaches areas that a regular pump spray would not reach.
  • We advise the customer and their pets to vacate the property for 2 hours. Homeowners must allow the treatment to dry. 
  • After the treatment do not vacuum for 2 weeks because this will remove any residual insecticide.
  • Ensure that you remove aquatic life from the house.
  • Chemicals may leave a white powder residue. It is easy to wipe away the harmless residue.
  • The treatment is safe. We regularly treat children’s rooms and nurseries.

Our technicians take care to use formulations that will not harm fabrics and furnishings. Furthermore, the treatment will include all floor surfaces. We focus on areas underneath and behind furniture. Our technicians focus on the areas where pets spend most of their time.

‘Flea-borne disease in Texas’. So, there may be flea-borne diseases in the USA but there is no evidence of similar outbreaks in the UK. However, it is always important to be vigilant and take action to control all pest infestations.

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