Dog Feeding

Fleas (Siphonaptera) – Factsheet for well being professionals

Copy and oviposition

After rising from the pupa, each the males and the females usually require a blood meal for the activation of reproductive capabilities. Therefore, mating can solely happen after each sexes have fed (with a couple of exceptions, when mating happens earlier than the primary blood meal). Mating happens on- or off-host, relying on the species [3]. In C. felis, the females begin laying eggs 24−48 hours after the primary blood meal and so they lay round 30 eggs per day, each day, for 50−100 days [16].


Flea prevalence (i.e. share of constructive hosts from the full host inhabitants) and depth (variety of fleas per host) comply with a seasonal sample. The seasonality (variation of prevalence and depth) varies with flea species. That is influenced primarily by flea survival and copy charges which depend upon a mix of things, resembling weather conditions (for the event and survival of the immature levels; survival of adults and not using a blood meal) and host density and availability [3].

In Europe, the seasonal differences in flea prevalence, depth and reproductive patterns are important as a result of marked seasonal differences in temperature and precipitation [3]. Nonetheless, on account of their presence in anthropic environments, species resembling X. cheopis or C. felis would possibly present a much less marked seasonal variation [3,13]. For P. irritans, increased prevalence and depth have been reported on goats in the course of the summer season [11].

Host choice

Though flea species would possibly want sure hosts, they may feed on any out there host. For some flea species, survival and fertility is very depending on the host species [17]. The blood digestion fee enormously varies, even in the identical flea species, relying on the host used for feeding and the quantity ingested. For P. irritans, the off-host survival time diverse from as little as two days after feeding on guinea pigs to 2 months after feeding on rabbits [3].

Pulex irritans has been discovered on a variety of home and wildlife hosts, together with people. Regardless of its widespread identify of home flea, P. irritans is extra typically discovered on pigs than on people, the speculation being that pigs have been its authentic pure host within the Americas [17]. The cat flea (C. felis) is mostly discovered on canine and cats, however a big number of different mammals, together with people, can function unintended hosts [13]. The rat flea (X. cheopis) feeds on many forms of rodents, however often different hosts, together with people, will be affected [19].

Epidemiology and transmission of pathogens

Vector standing of various ailments of public well being and veterinary significance


Plague is a extreme zoonotic illness attributable to Y. pestis, a Gram-negative rod-shaped bacterium. The pathogen has a wide-spread distribution, however the majority of human circumstances are reported from Africa, Asia and the Americas. The illness in all probability originates from Central Asia, with the primary identified human epidemic spreading from the Center East to the Byzantine Empire, adopted by the ‘Black Dying’ pandemic in the course of the fourteenth to the seventeenth century which brought about important human mortality in Europe. The final outbreaks in Europe or its instant neighborhood have been reported in North-African Mediterranean ports (1943−1944), France and Italy in 1945. Outbreaks have been reported in Algeria in 2003 [20] and in Libya in 2009 [21]. From 2010 to 2015 there have been 3 248 circumstances reported worldwide, together with 584 deaths [22]. In 2013, a big outbreak was reported in Madagascar, with greater than 2 400 confirmed circumstances [23].

Yersinia pestis is maintained and unfold amongst rodents by fleas. Greater than 200 rodent and roughly 20 lagomorph species have been reported to harbour the pathogen globally, with rats being an important reservoirs in Europe. Though Y. pestis has been detected in additional than 100 flea species, the primary vector for people are X. cheopis (worldwide), Xenopsylla brasiliensis (Africa, South America, India), and Xenopsylla astia (Southeast Asia) [1].

Outbreaks of plague are seasonal and related to the ecology of rodents and their vectors. An important danger issue is the publicity to fleas and rodent hosts in an space the place the illness is energetic. Transmission of plague to people will be through flea bites (contaminated fleas regurgitate the micro organism whereas feeding), contact with contaminated tissues (i.e. when dealing with contaminated animals) or by means of inhalation of contaminated aerosols (direct human-to-human transmission within the case of pneumonic plague). Contaminated cats and canine also can transmit the illness to people through bites or scratches. People develop the medical illness after an incubation interval of two to eight days [24].

Murine typhus

Murine typhus, also referred to as endemic typhus, is a bacterial zoonotic illness attributable to Rickettsia typhi and is presently thought-about to be the commonest flea-borne illness in people. Murine typhus is discovered primarily in coastal areas, primarily in tropical and subtropical areas of the world, in affiliation with excessive densities of rats which characterize its wildlife reservoir [25]. Murine typhus is endemic in North Africa and the Center East and likewise happens within the Canary Islands, and on the island of Madeira. In continental Europe steady foci are current in Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In a number of different nations (France, Italy, North Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia) sporadic autochthonous circumstances have been reported [26].

Individuals can grow to be contaminated by means of an contaminated flea chew or contact (e.g. inhalation, conjunctival contact) with flea faeces. The primary flea vectors of R. typhi are rat fleas (X. cheopis, Leptopsylla segnis) but additionally cat fleas (C. felis) and home fleas (P. irritans) will be concerned in city or sub-urban cycles, with possums and cats as pathogen reservoirs [1,25]. It has additionally been recommended that the fleas (Leptopsylla segnis) of different forms of rat are potential vectors of R. typhi, however experimental proof continues to be wanted [27].

Flea-borne noticed fever

Flea-borne noticed fever is a extra just lately described rickettsial zoonotic illness attributable to R. felis which is accountable for an sickness that’s just like, however much less extreme than murine typhus. Since its discovery in 1990 in a laboratory colony of cat fleas (C. felis) it has been recognised as an essential reason for human illness worldwide [25]. In Europe, autochthonous circumstances have been detected in France (2009), Germany (1997), Spain (2006), and Sweden (2010) [26].

The primary vector of R. felis is the cat flea, C. felis, however different flea species (X. cheopis, Archeopsylla erinacei) have be concerned within the transmission or have been discovered to hold the pathogen [26,28]. Cat fleas are in a position to vertically transmit the pathogen for a number of generations. To this point, no mammal reservoir is thought for R. felis [25]. The DNA of R. felis has additionally been detected in different arthropods, resembling ticks, mites, lice, and mosquitoes [29,30] however their position as reservoirs or vectors is unknown.

Cat scratch illness

Cat scratch illness is a bacterial zoonosis attributable to B. henselae, the commonest species of Bartonella present in people. The primary vector is C. felis, which is accountable primarily for sustaining the an infection in cat populations. Nonetheless, an important infectious materials is flea faeces, from the place the micro organism infect wounds, resembling cuts or scratches [13]. The identify of the illness refers to the commonest technique of transmission to people, by cat scratch when the claws of cats are contaminated with contaminated flea faeces. Serological research in cats have proven increased antibody prevalence in heat, humid areas than in chilly and dry areas, in feral cats in comparison with owned cats and in cats contaminated with fleas in comparison with flea-free cats [31].


Tularaemia is a zoonosis attributable to Francisella tularensis, a gammaproteobacterium. The illness is endemic in a number of areas of the northern hemisphere (Europe, Northern and Central Asia and North America). The medical presentation in people is advanced, with a number of classical kinds described.

Varied vertebrates act as reservoirs of an infection, with lagomorphs being essentially the most typically incriminated. The commonest route of human an infection is water-borne, however it could possibly additionally happen through a tick or fly chew or direct contact in the course of the dealing with of contaminated animal tissues. Different routes of an infection are inhalation or ingestion. Different arthropods (fleas, lice, deer flies, mosquitoes, bedbugs, mites) have additionally been recommended as vectors, however their true position nonetheless must be clarified. Amongst fleas, a number of species have been recommended as doable reservoirs and/or vectors: X. cheopis, Ceratophyllus acutus, Ceratophyllus fasciatus [32].

Probability of introduction and institution of flea-borne pathogen transmission cycles in Europe

There’s at present no plague in Europe and the final reported circumstances occurred after the Second World Conflict. The three most plague-endemic nations on the planet are at present the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, and Peru [22], so travellers and cargo transport from these nations ought to be thought-about as a possible danger of pathogen introduction to Europe. Nonetheless, the very best importation danger to Europe could also be posed by contaminated rats and rat fleas through trans-Mediterranean maritime routes since X. cheopis is prevalent in nations resembling Algeria [33].

The chance of onward transmission from a traveller contaminated with bubonic plague through fleas may be very low, because it requires the presence of competent flea vectors on the contaminated traveller or on the traveller’s vacation spot. Each are unlikely as rat fleas don’t dwell on individuals —they depart people after feeding— and X. cheopis doesn’t infest homes except these are co-inhabited by rats [33]. There isn’t a latest documentation in Europe of native transmission from imported circumstances of the bubonic type of plague. The primary danger of native transmission is posed by travellers contaminated with pneumonic plague, who may straight unfold the illness through respiratory droplets. It ought to be famous that untreated bubonic and septicaemic types of plague could become pneumonic plague.

As a result of non-specific medical image, murine typhus is often indistinguishable from different febrile circumstances, primarily in tropical areas the place it’s underdiagnosed. Travellers coming into or coming back from endemic areas may be misdiagnosed, apart from the extreme circumstances when particular checks are often accomplished [25]. Imported circumstances have been reported in lots of European nations [26], however with no onward native transmission occasions documented after importation. After being established in a human inhabitants, R. typhi will be additionally transmitted in a human-flea-human cycle by P. irritans and, experimentally, even by physique lice (Pediculus humanus humanus) and grow to be epidemic. In Europe, the very best danger might be posed by the cat flea, C. felis which is current inside human habitats on a year-round foundation [26]. Seroprevalence research in individuals generally uncovered to rats and their fleas has proven the presence of low antibody ranges [34].

Cat scratch illness has a worldwide distribution, together with Europe. Though the illness is usually subclinical and self-limiting, problems resembling angiomatosis, endocarditis or systemic an infection have been reported in weak individuals, resembling youngsters and immunocompromised sufferers [31].

Tularaemia is endemic in Europe, however the sources of human an infection fluctuate in every nation. Though an infection can stem from a tick chew or direct contact with aerosols, additionally it is generally thought-about to be a water-borne an infection [35]. As well as, in various nations it has been related to direct contact with contaminated hares throughout searching periods (Czechia, France, Germany, Slovakia, Spain), contamination of meals or water by contaminated rodents (Bulgaria, Kosovo, Norway, Serbia, Turkey) or mosquitoes (Sweden) [32,35]. The position of fleas within the transmission to people in Europe appears to be restricted in comparison with that of ticks and biting flies.

Public well being management measures

The presence of fleas in human environments is kind of ubiquitous, though not simply recognised. Cat fleas are widespread on pet and stray cats and canine and is usually a nuisance for individuals in frequent contact with pets. Normal management measures for fleas could embody periodical utility of ectoparasiticides on pets, cleansing and disinfection of the pet’s setting (e.g. pet beds, flooring) to get rid of larvae; management of stray canine and cat populations and rodents in populated areas and public consciousness to coach individuals about avoiding contact with rodents. Extra particular measures for flea-borne ailments are listed beneath.

Surveillance and immediate prognosis of plague circumstances in people is important to stop onward transmission [1]. One of many recommended management measures for stopping the introduction of plague into Europe through rodents and their fleas is the implementation of rodent-control programmes at factors of entry, resembling harbours [36] and in city areas [1], mixed with vector management actions.

Following the excessive incidence of murine typhus after the Second World Conflict, drastic rat and vector management programmes brought about a big drop in human circumstances [25]. Subsequently comparable measures to these described above might be applied for plague in danger areas.

As the primary vector and reservoir of R. felis is C. felis, the primary management measures can concentrate on the management of cat fleas, as talked about above. As no mammalian reservoir hosts are at present identified for R. felis, it’s not doable to manage these fleas by concentrating on reservoir hosts.

Controlling flea infestation in cats is the one really useful measure that may cut back the chance of human an infection with B. henselae [13].

Key areas of uncertainty

Flea-borne ailments are comparatively uncared for in Europe in comparison with different vector-borne ailments when it comes to focused surveillance, analysis and management. One of many important data gaps in understanding the dangers of pathogen transmission from fleas to people is the shortage of geographical distribution da,ta primarily for the home flea, P. irritans and the rat flea, X. cheopis. Furthermore, there’s little knowledge out there on the prevalence of most flea-borne pathogens in fleas, vertebrate reservoirs, and people. Focused and detailed research are wanted to fill these gaps.

Novel genotypes of flea-borne pathogens, significantly Rickettsiae, are regularly being present in varied insect vectors, together with fleas, worldwide [25]. Nonetheless, their particular taxonomic standing, their eco-epidemiology and public well being and veterinary significance requires extra in-depth analysis. There must also be additional examine of ectoparasites and pathogens of rodents at factors of entry in an effort to higher perceive the danger to public well being.


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