A flea lying dead on a flat white surface. A flea lying dead on a flat white surface.

Flea-Borne Infections: 8 Key Insights for Informed Understanding

Can fleas live on humans? If you want to know the reply to this query, you tapped on the right article. Apart from the answer, you’ll learn some other inevitable elements too. So, read each detail precisely. Otherwise, you may face some severe obstacles.

Before concluding anything, do you know something about fleas, or have you only perceived its name? Most of you know about fleas, but maybe a few of you haven’t. And those who know are only aware of some basic information.

To know slightly deep about fleas and their variations, we’ll commence with its introduction.

1. What Are Fleas?

Fleas are a class of insects that are very tiny in shape. When hearing about insects, we assume that they indeed have wings. But not in the instance of a flea because they are wingless.

They can’t fly, but they can jump, and just because they are tiny in proportion, do not take them slightly because flea bites can prove this.

Fleas have cuticle-bearing tough bristles. In addition, their flattened and broad spines have ctenidia (a comb-like structure).

Do you know these fleas have a scientific name like other species called ‘Siphonaptera1? If someone pronounces its scientific name, don’t be baffled.

Maybe these are small, but their variation has such a wide range that you’ll learn later in the article.

1.1. What Do Fleas Do?

Fleas are a parasite, and they bite to suck blood. Maybe, its bite looks red and small but can cause allergic reactions. Fleas’ affection is not only limited to this because there are many others that you’ll learn from in this article.

2. Fleas Live on Humans?

If you assume fleas’ itchy bites occur only in humans, you did it wrong because these fleas do not leave anyone. They attack animals like dogs and cats as well. But for each living being, there are distinct variations of a flea.

But here, we’ll talk about human fleas, and by considering it, the top-most query arises: Do fleas live on humans?

As we already know, they are wingless. And if they stay on humans, we should immediately try to remove fleas because they can cause some serious flea-borne diseases or infections.

According to healthline.com, because fleas do not have substantial hairless bodies like other animals it’s difficult for them to perform reproduction without the protection of any feathers or furs. Henceforth, they cannot live on humans.

However, they can’t live on humans, but they can bite you, and their bites are not like any mosquito bites. A flea bite offers strong side effects.

A close-up of human skin with red rashes and infection from a flea bite.
Photo by Saaaaa from Depositphotos.

2.1. On What Part of the Human Body Do Fleas Bite?

Many people think that a human flea can live in their hair and only on that part they bite, but no, they are incorrect because fleas bite in the lowest part of the human body, including the ankle, feet, and legs.

Wherever they bite, a tiny red mark takes place, just like other insects when they bite. But do you know how these fleas bite after being small and wingless?

They do it by bouncing from an infested pet or their beds. People who live with pets or shower love animals most of the time are also supposed to get infected by fleas.

3. What Are Flea Infestations?

Just because fleas are short in shape doesn’t mean they aren’t hazardous. Fleas can transmit any disease or disorder from one to another. The transmission of a flea infestation is not only limited to humans but also to pets or animals.

A flea infestation is also related to pets. You already know fleas are classified into distinct variations for each species. You can consider dog fleas and cat fleas as examples.

Smoothly, a fleas infestation is a process of harboring fleas, specifically the pet ones. If you are a dog owner, you’ll see your dog scratching their body parts in an unlikely way.

But that doesn’t mean that flea infestations are only for pets because, from pets, they can be transmitted to humans and can result in a severe infection as well.

3.1. How Flea Infestation Takes Place?

For flea infestation, there is no need to be various fleas because only two fleas are enough. When these fleas find any host, whether animal or human while consuming blood meal, the two adult fleas intimate and lay flea eggs not only in their body but also in the surroundings like furniture-related objects or cushions.

After a few days, eggs start getting hatched. Then further processes take place. Now, you’ll say: how do these fleas find their host? By following the below-listed points, fleas find their host:

• Body Temperature

• Breathing Rate

• Movements

• Vibrations

4. What Are the Side Effects When Fleas Bite Any Human or Animal?

You are conscious that fleas are very dangerous for both people and animals. But if the infestation is harsh, the host’s condition can be fatal. Some effects caused by fleas, you should know are listed below:

4.1. Plague

A plague is a bacteria that occurs when infected by a flea bite. This plague takes place in both humans and animals. Also, it has a dreadful veracity

Many rodents (a variety of small animals) have to suffer death while suffering from this. During the plague, the oriental rat flea also occurs but is not limited to rodents only. In human beings also, it can take place.

The bubonic plague is prevalent in human beings and occurs from infected rodents. However, the rodents die because the hungry fleas soak the remaining blood sources from their bodies.

4.2. Typhus

When you come in contact with an infected flea, you are most likely to suffer from Typhus disease. While suffering from typhus2, you will feel high fever, muscle aches, and headaches.

Also, when fleas bite, a small part of your body will get red bumps, but in typhus, this redness will start spreading to all of your body parts except your palm, face, and sole.

The death threat in typhus is slighter, so if you get proper treatment at an accurate time, you can defeat this typhus.

4.3. Tapeworms

An inside view of the human intestine with tapeworm living in it. Tapeworms are parasite flatworms and lives in digestive tracts in a human body.
Photo by animaxx3d from Depositphotos.

The possibility of tapeworms through fleas is also a danger that you can’t ignore. Due to fleas’ smaller size, they can be present in anything, even in your food. Also, you can’t recognize them and ingest the flea-infected food.

Adult people still are concerned about healthy and fresh foods, but children do not care much. They intake food without hand washing and consume food that is not bacteria-free. So, the chances of getting infected by tapeworms through fleas are frequent into them.

Ordinarily, tapeworms are harmless, but you should certainly go to the doctor for your check-up as they can analyze it better. This tapeworm takes place in animals too, and if your pets have tapeworms, take them to the veterinarian.

4.3.1. How to Spot Tapeworms in Humans and Animals?

Redness occurs when a flea bites. While infected by flea tapeworms, you may see white spots on your body that resemble fluffy. In animals as well, this white spot is visible. So, in this situation, getting help from professionals will be effective.

4.4. Irritation and Hives

You must be aware of allergic reactions. Irritation is one of them. Also, you know there is not the only factor that irritates humans or animals.

Before moving forward, you should know the word ‘irritation’ here is not about mood swings or emotions. Here, it means when we get rashes on our skin or when any insect bites, the redness takes place, and in that particular place, you always want to scratch, and that feeling is irritation.

Along with irritation, hives can also occur after a few hours of the bite. Swelling and itching are still better than hives because it’s more hurtful.

Not applying any ointment or something that will be effective for this can increase your swelling, itching, hives, and pain. There is also a possibility you can’t tolerate your pain for a while.

A picture of a boy taking care of his infected cat during a vet visit. The cat is infested with fleas and is in pain.
Photo by ilona75 from Depositphotos.

4.5. Bartonellosis

Bartonellosis3 is a cat scratch disease that reaches into them through fleas. If you think you aren’t a cat-owned person or have no relation with any cats, you should not be afraid of it.

It’s false because Bartonellosis is a transferrable disease. Indeed, this disease is considered a cat flea but can appear in humans without any medium.

You’ll say, how do recognize whether or not you are suffering from Bartonellosis? A few symptoms are listed below to acknowledge Bartonellosis.

• Lymph

• Fatigue

• Migraine or Headache

• Bad Appetite

5. Why Does an Allergic Reaction Occur When a Flea Bites on Humans?

Flea bites are not only the medium that results in allergic reactions. But also, we can’t ignore that fleas cause allergic reactions in humans. Honestly, an allergic reaction depends on an individual’s skin type.

Some people’s skin is sensitive. Therefore, the reaction on their skin occurs effortlessly. It was a simple reason but is not enough. You should know the scientific cause too.

According to my.clevelandclinic.org, when a flea bites you, they secrete saliva in the blood, and because of this secretion, the saliva turns allergic. In the next step, your immune system plays a crucial role.

Because they dispatch some chemical cytokines to that area of your body where the flea has bitten you. The immune system does it because they have to detach the allergen that took place due to fleas.

Do you know the principal cause of itching and swelling during a flea bite? Cytokines4 are the reason for them.

5.1. How Prolonged Is the Allergic Reaction Stays When a Flea Bites?

A woman is troubled and scratching her left elbow with a few red rashes happened due to the flea infection.
Photo by Dmyrto_Z from Depositphotos.

We all know allergies do not stay longer, but we should not avoid our skin’s sensitivity as it’s a required element. People with sensitive skin get easily allergic, but their allergy fades away in one or two days.

When a flea bites, the reaction occurs in that part, but you’ll ask how to identify it. If you feel any rash, you should know it’s because of the reaction. These reactions may take a few days more than an allergy to get cured.

Also, during the curing process, there is the likelihood to affected with infection. And if this happens, realize that the healing process from fleas can take even a long time.

6. How to Get Rid of Fleas?

Knowing how dangerous fleas are, you have thought about eliminating them- right? Eradicating fleas from your pet’s life is necessary. Therefore, you must learn about the steps.

Also, getting rid of them isn’t easy because they look tiny in shape. Hence, one should be mindful while following the steps listed below.

6.1. Vacuuming

Using a vacuum cleaner daily at your house is one of the effective ways to remove fleas from your life. Vacuums absorb all the dust, dirt, and tiny particles. So, vacuuming each part of your home is mandatory.

But give exceptional attention to that part where you notice flea dirt. Now you’ll say, ‘How to recognize the dirt of fleas’? You can easily identify them because the feces of adult fleas are dirt that looks black.

Ensure to use the vacuum cleaner bag if you have pets. Also, vacuum each portion of your home where your pets stay. Because pets can visit some areas where we humans can’t. Cupboards, shelves, and book racks are considered examples.

If you think a vacuum isn’t enough to cover these places, why don’t you consider a narrow brush? Also, you should vacuum your pet’s fur because that part of the pet catches dirt immediately.

A person putting bedsheets in the washing machine. Cleaning the house and surroundings is an important factor to know about the dirt of fleas.
Photo by nito103 from Depositphotos.

6.2. Wash Bedding

If your previous bed has a flea, then using the same bed won’t be appreciated. In general, also we wash stuff related to bedding, but to remove fleas, wash them with hot water. Hot water works better than cold and will also remove the dust or dirt your blankets have.

You should wash them within five days or once a week, at least. The same is applied to pet bedding as well if you have any. It is not only limited to their beds but all their belongings including their toys.

The use of hot water is specific to get rid of fleas. If you doubt it, then let me make this clear to you. It is because, in hot temperatures, fleas get killed. When adult fleas lay their eggs, they also get destroyed at high temperatures.

6.3. Steam Cleansing

Steam cleansing is also a necessary step that you should not disregard. When a flea lays eggs before it turns into immature fleas, removing them will be favorable.

Therefore, you should clean your home by using steam. While steaming your home, the viable eggs or the flea pupae get destroyed. It is required to demolish their eggs because fleas don’t lay only a single egg.

They lay more than fifty eggs in a single day. Just think, if you don’t kill them, wouldn’t it be life-threatening? If you don’t have a steamer, get help from the professionals to help you.

Pay extra attention to the furniture and the carpets while steaming because those are preferred flea hot spots. Pets are also one of the reasons these things have the presence of fleas. Therefore, you should stream them.

6.4. Spray

A picture of a person using insecticide spray on fleas, flies and other pesticides to kill flea larvae and dirt.
Photo by Denaturator from Depositphotos.

Insecticide spray kills fleas and is an easy and effective method anybody can use. These sprays control flea larvae. Now you’ll ask if there are various insecticide sprays that you should pick for fleas.

You can consider using an insect growth regulator for the best results. Using sprays can make your labor easier as you can only squeeze on the parts where you can see marks of fleas.

The corner parts of any stuff are not easy to clean. Sometimes, no matter how much you try, there always be some dirt left. In these situations, sprays act the best.

These insecticide sprays have some chemicals that have an enormous impact on pre-adult fleas. Eventually, it led them to their death.

Pet owners must doubt whether these sprays will affect their pets as well. The insecticide sprays are only for pest control and are not harmful to pets. So, stop worrying and use it freely.

6.5. Eliminate Wild Animals

If you have any garden or lawn, there must be some small wild animals, but these creatures have a very high opportunity to carry fleas into them. If you don’t want fleas, you should not let wild animals near you and your home.

Mice, squirrels, and opossums are wild animals, and you should also stay away from them because they contain fleas infection.

Talking about pets, you should always use a flea comb on your pets because if there are any fleas in your pet’s fur, they will come out after combing.

6.6. Regular Checkups

A picture of a patient and a doctor interaction for flea infection issues.
Photo by freedomtumz from Depositphotos.

Regular checkups are the prior requirement that you do not ignore while dealing with flea infections. Medical professionals can understand best and will advise you or give medications according to your checkup status.

Similarly, take your pets regularly to the veterinarian as their medicine prescription will act the best to get relief from fleas. Along with killing fleas, the medication also stops the newly borne fleas from their adulthood process.

Seeking medical help should be the first thing you should do when a flea bites you or your pets. In the medical also, there are various methods of treatment.

7. Do Fleas Reproduce in Human Blood?

Already you know that fleas bite humans but can’t stay in them. Similarly, there is less possibility of the reproduction of fleas in human blood.

Fleas find it tough to reproduce on humans because they need free space to feed, and if they don’t, they can’t lay eggs. Therefore, fleas only produce minimal eggs in human blood.

Another method that helps fleas to reproduce in humans is through the help of an artificial membrane system. But specific flea species can reproduce.

Ctenocephalides felis5 are one of the flea species that can reproduce in human blood. But without artificial membranes, they can’t because they have a cover of them.

These Ctenocephalides felis are adult cat fleas, and all cat fleas have the potential to perform reproduction on humans as compared to other flea species.

8. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

8.1. Why Controlling Fleas Is Necessary?

A person uses spray in the bathroom and other rooms to kill and control flea growth.
Photo by IgorVetushko from Depositphotos.

For safety and health concerns, it is necessary to control them. A flea treatment helps to deal with all the harm they cause, including diseases, infections, and allergies. Sometimes, flea bites can cause death as well. Therefore, it’s better to get treatment for them within time.

Prevention from fleas is necessary for your pets because they also have to suffer a lot. Being humans, we can express in words what we are feeling, but pets can’t express precisely the feelings they are going through. Therefore, preventative measures are necessary for pets.

8.2. What Is the Life Duration of Fleas?

The life span of fleas is not very long, and several factors are responsible for it as well. The small, tiny size is one of them. Usually, fleas live for around two weeks.

But the situation gets different when these fleas get the preferred host for them. In that case, the life cycle of adult fleas gets expanded. They can live for a hundred days or more than it.

8.3. Do Fleas Bite in Your Hair?

Fleas do not stay in your hair for a longer duration. Still, they can bite you there, and you can also feel their bite. Therefore, you should not take it slightly.

It can cause some consequences that you won’t like at all. When fleas bite the scalp, they can cause hair fall, itching in your hair, and some dangerous diseases. But don’t bother yourself because some medically advised shampoos are proven effective while dealing with this situation.

9. Conclusion

Fleas may look small in size but are vicious. Not only humans but animals also get infected by them. There are various species of fleas, and each species attacks different categories, but their result is the same, that is life-threatening and painful. In addition, you should eliminate wild animals from your home, mainly rats

 Do fleas live on humans? Now, you have your mind clear on it. Apart from this, other required facts related to fleas are also in the article. So, you have, now sufficient knowledge regarding fleas and how to deal with them.

I hope you acquire some benefit from this article. Keep following all the mentioned methods, and you can effortlessly recover from a flea problem.

  1. Bossard, Robert L., et al. “Flea (Insecta: Siphonaptera) Family Diversity.” Diversity 15.10 (2023): 1096. ↩︎
  2. Richards, Allen L., and Ju Jiang. “Scrub typhus: historic perspective and current status of the worldwide presence of Orientia species.” Tropical medicine and infectious disease 5.2 (2020): 49. ↩︎
  3. Mada, Pradeep Kumar, Hassam Zulfiqar, and Andrew Stevenson Joel Chandranesan. “Bartonellosis.” StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing, 2023. ↩︎
  4. Liu, Chao, et al. “Cytokines: from clinical significance to quantification.” Advanced Science 8.15 (2021): 2004433. ↩︎
  5. Farakh, Haseeb-ullah, and Mehmood Jafar Haseeb-ur-Rehman. “An Overview of Ctenocephalides felis.” ↩︎

Last Updated on by Sanjana


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