The Dangers Of A Flea Infestation In Your San Jose Home

cat flea crawling on a rug

It often begins with a scratch. Your pet scratches an ear or scratches a side, and your heart sinks—especially if you've ever had to deal with a difficult flea infestation. Fleas can be difficult to control. You may also experience fear if you ever had a flea infestation that resulted in illness. Fleas aren't just frustrating, blood-sucking parasites that leap on you and leave itchy, inflamed welts on your ankles and legs. They can present a serious danger to the health of your pet(s) as well as yourself and your family. Here's how it works.

Disease Transmission Through Fleas

The most important thing you need to know about flea-borne illness is that you can get sick without ever being bitten by a flea. A flea can bite your pet, and you can become sick from contact with your pet's saliva, or by way of a scratch. You can get intestinal illness by accidentally consuming a flea that has jumped into your food. You can get sick by kneeling in flea dirt with an open wound on your knee.


There are more than twenty-two species of bartonella bacteria that have been given a name. You may recognize some of them, such as cat scratch fever (also called cat scratch disease), Carrion's disease, or trench fever. Cats are particularly sensitive to bartonella henselae, the bacteria that causes bartonellosis. If your kitty gets sick, you can become sick if your kitty scratches you. This is why bartonellosis is called "cat scratch" fever. But what many people don't know is that saliva from an infected cat can transmit this bacterium. This can lead to a very disturbing and mysterious illness. Cats can have bartonellosis and not show any signs. If your cat gets sick and licks your eye, you could have temporary blindness in that eye without any clue as to why it happened. There are many strange cases of bartonellosis. Keep this in mind if you ever become sick and you know that your cat has fleas.

Murine Typhus

Two other bacteria you should be aware of are Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia felis. These can cause the disease Murine typhus. This bacteria can be in the feces of infected fleas, or in the fleas themselves. If you have an open wound that is exposed to flea dirt (the feces of fleas), you can become sick. You may think, "When am I ever going to be crawling around on flea dirt?" But what happens is flea dirt gets into open wounds when pets are cuddled. Flea dirt can be in the fur or hair of your pet. Keep this in mind if you have fleas and you have an open cut or wound on your skin.


This is probably the most disturbing of all the ways fleas can make you sick. As fleas spring through the air, they can accidentally fall into food. If you consume a flea, you could have a tapeworm grow inside your intestinal tract. Tapeworms are flat, segmented worms that can grow to be quite large and multiply in your gut. In most cases, these worms are easily treated. But a tapeworm problem can go undiagnosed and lead to serious, and possibly life-threatening, illness. Keep this in mind if you have stomach cramps and your pet has a flea problem (or, if you've had a flea problem recently corrected).

Bubonic Plague

While certainly not common anymore, or fatal to humans, the bubonic plague is still around. If you are bitten by an infected flea, you can get very sick. Your pet can also get very sick. This disease kills rodents. Experts recommend that you contact state health officials if you find several dead rodents on your property, and to take special precautions to avoid this disease.


It is not good for you, or your pets, to have blood drawn frequently. This can lead to anemia. A lack of healthy red blood cells can lead to tissue damage.

Get Control Of Fleas

There are more ways fleas can make you sick. The examples above are meant to present the scope of the problem. When fleas infest your home, contact Bay Pest for effective control. We provide industry-leading pest control in San Jose and the Bay Area.

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