a flea crawling through a pets fur

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Flea infestations are common, and the vast majority of flea infestations will not result in any illness for your pets, or for anyone living in your home. This can make it seem like fleas should not be considered a threat. We hope you do not make this mistake. When fleas cause illness, they can cause serious illness. What kind of illness? Imagine waking up with blindness in one eye. Imagine going to the hospital and having the attending physician tell you that they have no idea why you've lost sight in one eye. This can happen when fleas make your cat sick with bartonella bacteria, and your cat licks your eye. (This actually happened to a woman.) Let's take a look at a few more ways fleas can spread illness.

A Cat Scratch

There are 35 Bartonella species as of this writing. Each has an illness named after it. One that you may have heard of is cat scratch fever, also referred to as cat scratch disease. This is the bartonella bacteria that made the woman above blind in one eye. But saliva isn't the only way this disease can go from a cat to a person. It can be spread by a scratch. The symptoms of cat scratch fever are low-grade fever, swelling and redness around the scratch wounds, headache, body ache, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and more. Since these symptoms are similar to the flu or the common cold, it is easy to not recognize a flea infestation as the source of this illness.

Flea Dirt

This is a term that refers to the feces of fleas. This "dirt" is often found in the fur or hair of a pet and can look like dirt. If your pet contracts Murine typhus from an infected flea, you can become exposed to this disease without ever getting a single bite. Murine typhus is spread by exposure to flea dirt through a cut or open wound. Often, it is close contact with a pet that leads to the spread. But you can clip your toenails and have a small wound on your toe, then walk across a carpet that has flea dirt on it and contract this illness. Symptoms of Murine typhus are low-grade fever, abdominal pain, headache, body ache, couching, nausea, and vomiting. Does this sound like symptoms of the flu? There is a pattern here that you should take note of.


Has your dog or cat ever had tapeworms? These parasitic worms are disgusting. They're usually discovered when they are discharged from the anus of a pet. This leads to a veterinarian visit and the prescribing of a dewormer. But, do you know that you can get these worms?

Tapeworm can grow inside the intestinal tract of a human. They get there by consumption. You may think, "Why would I ever eat a flea?" The answer is that you wouldn't intentionally eat a flea, but you could eat one unintentionally. If you have a couch with fleas in it, and you set a plate of food on the arm of your couch, a flea could hop into your food. If a scenario like this plays out in your home, you could find yourself with abdominal pain and think that you have the flu. Unfortunately, this is abdominal pain that isn't likely to go away on its own. You'll need to be dewormed.

Some people can go for a long time before realizing they have something seriously wrong in their guts. We hope this doesn't happen to you. If you have a flea infestation, and you start having abdominal pain, it is important to connect the dots and realize those fleas could be the source of your distress.


One of the worst diseases spread by fleas is the bubonic plague. While completely treatable, it is unpleasant to contract this disease. And, if you don't realize you have the plague, you may think you just have the flu, and you may have serious symptoms.

Don't Take Flea Infestations Lightly

At the first sign of a flea infestation, contact Witt Pest Management for flea control in your Pittsburgh home. The examples we've given today are just some of the many ways fleas can make you sick.

Tags:  home pest control  |  pest prevention  |  fleas  |