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Flea Control in Companion Animals

General Information

1. Ctenocephalides felis survives for 10 days at 30°C (37.4°F) or 5 days at 10°C (33.8°F).

2. In cold climates, fleas survive as adults on dogs and cats or wild mammals or within pupal casings as preemerged adults in protected environments.

3. Annoyance and pruritus are common complaints.

4. Heavy infestations may lead to iron deficiency anemia and death, particularly in young animals (dogs, cats, goats, cattle, and sheep).

5. Ctenocephalides felis is capable of transmitting Rickettsia typhi, Rickettsia felis, Bartonella hensalae, Dipylidium caninum, and Acanthocheilonema (Dipetalonema) reconditum.

6. Fleas can also transmit hemoplasmas (formerly Hemobartonella spp.; now known as Mycoplasma spp.), Yersinia pestis (plague), and Francisella tularensis (tularemia).

7. Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is caused by hypersensitivity to antigenic material from the salivary glands of fleas. • Adult C. felis uses visual and thermal cues to locate hosts. Newly emerged cat fleas survive only a few days before requiring a blood meal. In most homes, newly emerged fleas die within 1 to 2 weeks without a host.

8. Acquiring newly emerged fleas from an infested environment is the primary cause of the initiation of an infestation. However, adult fleas can transfer directly from one host to another.

9. The time from egg to adult is 21 to 28 days.

10. Fleas that do not land on a dog or cat and are not blood sucking can live for 1 year or longer.

11. Once a female flea lands on a dog or cat, they will start their bloodsucking activity and then start laying eggs. “Flea dirt” is actually flea excreta (digested blood).

12. 1 female flea will produce 20 to 50 eggs per day.

13. Once a female flea starts blood sucking activity and egg laying, they will live for 4 months and then die. During that time, they will have produced 2000 eggs.

14. Eggs fall off the dog or cat and land in the environment (floors and carpets).

15. Flea dirt also falls off the dog or cat and lands in the environment (floors and carpets).

16. The eggs hatch and the flea molts into the larval stage. The larvae feeds on the flea dirt on the floor and carpet.

17. The larva spins a cocoon and molts into a form called a pupa. If it is warm and humid, the pupa molts into an adult flea within a few days. If it is dry and cool, the pupa can remain dormant until the following year; it will emerge as an adult when it is warm (>60 degrees) and when humidity rises.

18. In a typical household flea infestation 75 to 80 percent of the fleas are in the form of the egg and larval stages.

19. Household insecticides kill only the adult fleas in the house – nominally 5 to 10 percent of the total flea population.

20. Household insecticides with an IGR (insect growth regulator) kill adult fleas AND delays hatching of the eggs for 6 months or longer. ( Note: One of the medications in Sentinel is an oral IGR)

21. A flea infested household should be treated every 4 weeks. Do you know why?? (Hint – see item 1).

22. The last word – the only good flea is a dead flea. Apart from its literal meaning, flea repellants are a useless flea control strategy. Flea Control and Treatment 1. Comprehensive flea-control programs should eliminate fleas on pets, eliminate existing environmental infestations, and prevent subsequent re-infestation. 2. Moderate to severe infestations may take several months to bring under control. 3. Elimination of fleas on epts can be achieved through the use of available fela adulticides that are highly effective for killing adult fleas, including: Elimination of fleas on pets can be achieved through use of available flea adulticides that are Dinotefuran: dogs and cats (monthly topical spot-on) Fipronil: dogs and cats (monthly topical spot-on or spray) Imidacloprid: dogs and cats (monthly topical spot-on or 8-month collar) Indoxacarb: dogs and cats (monthly topical spot-on) Nitenpyram: dogs and cats (daily or as-needed oral pill) Selamectin: dogs and cats (monthly topical spot-on) Spinosad: dogs and cats (Monthly oral pill) Synthetic pyrethrins: dogs (various formulations including cyphenothrin, deltamethrin, flumethrin, and permethrin); some formulations are registered for use on cats (e.g. flumethrin) while others may be toxic to cats. 4. Products and applications: Bravecto NexGard **Certain flea insecticide formulations contain insect groth regulators (IGRs) or insect development inhibitors (IDIs) either alone or in combination with adulticides. These agents, which include lufenuron, methoprene, and pyriproyfen, prevent flea eggs from hatching and kill larvae or early pupae. **Occasionally, label-recommended application of topical insecticides will not appear to control the problem. This may be real or perceived, based on pet owner expectations of product performance, frequency of bathing, and reinfestation rates. If additional control measures are needed, products may be combined, environmental control may be implemented, or frequency of application may be increased if label allows. Federal law prohibits the extra-label use of pesticides regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Public Health Matters 1. The common flea of dogs and cats, C. felis, transmits a number of zoonotic agents, including those that cause cat scratch disease (B. henselae), murine typhus (R. typhi), flea-borne typhus (R. felis), and tapeworms (D. caninum).Ingestion of infected fleas by children has resulted in development of adult D. caninum (tapeworm) in a large number of pediatric cases. 2. Rodent fleas that may be acquired by dogs and cats in southern Rocky Mountain states and southwestern states may be vectors for bubonic plague (Yersinia pestis). These fleas may leave the host to bite humans. 3. Flea infestation of homes and areas around a home often results in humans being bitten by newly emerging fleas, inciting an allergic response. The resulting papular rash can be mild to extensive, depending on numbers of fleas and individual hypersensitivity reactions.