Fear the Flea! Tiny Pests are in the News!

We often think of fleas in terms of how they affect our pets, but the truth is, fleas are in the news!

On July 15, fleas were responsible for bites on students at the Linda Vista Elementary School in San Diego, Calif., requiring fumigation not once but three times.

Then, national and international media reported that on Aug. 4 and 5, the Orleans County Courthouse in Albion, N.Y., was forced to shut its doors for a flea infestation. No one seems to know what caused the flea infestation, but the judicial process was stopped in its tracks by an influx of tiny six-legged, blood-sucking arthopods. (No lawyer jokes, please!) Then, on Aug. 7,  those pesky fleas were responsible for closing down the John Steinbeck Library in Salinas, Calif. That’s a lot of public buildings (and lots of people) affected by flea infestations!

The fact is, fleas hitch a ride on any number of warm-blooded hosts — not only our dogs and cats, but rodents as well including rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels and beavers. In fact, the largest flea on record at nearly half an inch in length, Hystrichopsylla schefferi, is found on the mountain beaver. Fowl aren’t safe either — even backyard chickens can be infested!

What’s common among all of them is a four-stage life cycle and the fact that they want blood. Sometimes they are a little more selective about their hosts, but many fleas aren’t picky and will jump from Rover or Fluffy to you. Or if Rover or Fluffy catch a squirrel (or find a dead rodent), those fleas will happily switch over.

What does that mean for you? You might be an unwitting host, or may find out quickly that you’ve acquired some “baggage” that not only bites, but can transmit disease. Remember your history lessons and the Black Death? While we don’t often encounter plague today, in early July the Colorado Department of Health reported that four individuals in Adams County (near Denver) had been diagnosed with plague; probably from their contact with a dog (that later died of the disease). While officials haven’t determined the initial source of the plague, it is believed that the dog encountered prairie dogs or rabbits that carried the fleas. What’s even worse is that the owner of the dog and two other victims actually contracted pneuomic plague that is spread from human to human, usually through aerosol (coughing, sneezing) transmission.

What’s a person to do? First and foremost, make sure your pets are well protected by applying a preventative flea and tick topical, such as SENTRY Fiproguard Plus IGR. This hard-hitting topical kills fleas, flea eggs, ticks and chewing lice. Plus, it contains an insect growth regulator that breaks the flea life cycle. So not only does it stop fleas on your pet, it keeps them from proliferating in your home!

Should you need to take drastic steps, SENTRY offers a whole host of home defense products, from yard and premise sprays to indoor household foggers and flea and tick carpet powders and sprays. And don’t forget to take steps to make your yard less welcoming to invading arthropods who can actually pose a deathly threat to you — and your pets!

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