Fleas - including symptoms, treatment and prevention
Fleas are wingless biting insects which are common pests on domestic cats and dogs, as well as other animals.
Fleas from dogs, cats, rats and mice very rarely spread diseases such as plague, typhus and tapeworms to humans. They are, however, predominantly considered annoying to both people and pets.
How fleas are spread
Fleas are hatched from eggs which are laid in an animal's fur by an adult flea. The eggs fall from the pet and land on surfaces like bedding, carpeting or the soil in the animal’s environment. The eggs hatch into a larva, which then changes into another form called a pupa, and eventually these turn into adults. The time for this process varies depending on a number of factors, and in cool temperatures can take up to a year. Fleas tend to be more common during the warmer seasons.
Signs and symptoms of flea bites
Flea bites commonly cause skin irritation with itching. Some people and pets suffer from flea bite allergy, with intense itching, hair loss, reddening of the skin and sometimes infection.
Only adult fleas bite humans.
Diagnosis of flea bites
Diagnosis is made by identifying the fleas and/or their eggs.
Treatment of fleas
There are a number of simple treatments for itch available from a doctor and pharmacist.
The best approach to managing fleas is prevention. New safe and effective products for controlling fleas on pets have made this process much easier, and use of insecticidal sprays is now seldom necessary.
Contact your veterinarian for advice on selecting the best flea treatment for your pets.
If fleas become a problem, treat the pet’s environment at the same time as the pet.
Frequently vacuum floors, upholstered furniture and indoor areas where pets may sleep.
Treat animal bedding by boiling, or use of animal-safe insecticides. Use only products that are recommended for use with animals and consult your veterinarian first if you are in doubt.
Animals with fleas should also be treated for tapeworm.
For further advice on flea management contact the environmental health officer at your local council, or a commercial pest control company.
You can search through to find related information.
You've Got What?
How infectious diseases are spread and simple and practical advice for preventing the spread of infection in the home and community
How to stay healthy in the heat
Everyone is at risk of heat-related illness during hot weather and heatwaves.
Use of the information and data contained within this site or these pages is at your sole risk.
If you rely on the information on this site you are responsible for ensuring by independent verification its accuracy, currency or completeness.
This site includes links to other websites operated by community, business and government.
These linked websites will have their own terms and conditions of use and you should familiarise yourself with these.
All linked websites are linked 'as is' and the Government of South Australia:
does not sponsor, endorse or necessarily approve of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations regarding the quality, accuracy, merchantability or fitness for purpose of any material on websites linked from or to this Site;
does not make any warranties or representations that material on other websites to which this site is linked does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any person anywhere in the world; and
does not authorise the infringement of any intellectual property rights contained in material in other websites by linking this site to those other websites.
If you use automatic language translation services in connection with this site you do so at your own risk.
The information and data on this site is subject to change without notice. The Government of South Australia may revise this disclaimer at any time by updating this posting.
The Government of South Australia, its agents, instrumentalities, officers and employees:
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information and data contained on this site
make no representations, express or implied, as to the accuracy or usefulness of any translation of the information on this site or any linked website into another language
make no representations as to the availability of the site and the availability of websites linked from or to the site
accept no liability however arising for any loss resulting from the use of the site and any information and data or reliance placed on it (including translated information and data)
make no representations, either expressed or implied, as to the suitability of the said information and data for any particular purpose
accepts no liability for any interference with or damage to a user's computer, software or data occurring in connection with or relating to this Site or its use or any website linked to this site
do not represent or warrant that applications or payments initiated through this site will in fact be received or made to the intended recipient. Users are advised to confirm the application or payment by other means.