Can Fleas Live on Humans?

Fleas and Humans

If you have found that your pet has fleas the chances are that sooner or later you will wonder whether they may target you too.  If you don’t get rid of the fleas on your pet and in your home quickly, the chances are that you will soon be dealing with an infestation, and your fears about fleas living on you will be magnified.  So, can fleas live on humans?  [break]

Share your love, not your fleas!

Human Fleas vs Animal Fleas  [break]

The short answer is yes, fleas can live on humans.  However, the fleas that live on humans are unlikely to be the fleas that your pet has brought into the house.  Animal fleas and human fleas are two separate species[break]

The human flea is Pulex irritans.  This type of flea is not particularly discriminating in its choice of host and will happily live on a wide variety of hosts, including humans.  It can live on dogs and cats too, but it is not the type of flea that we usually associate with our pets.   [break]

The dog flea is Ctenocephalides canis and the cat flea is the closely related Ctenocephalides felis.  As you can see from the Latin names, these two flea species are entirely separate from the human flea.  These fleas will not live on a human.  They will however affect humans.  [break]

Pet Fleas Will Bite Humans  [break]

Often one of the first signs that your pet has fleas, is that you suffer a flea bite.  Typically, fleas bite your ankles and lower legs.  The result is similar to a mosquito bite; a small, itchy spot on the skin.  If you are susceptible to mosquito bites you are likely to be bothered by flea bites.  In some cases people find them so itchy that they scratch excessively and the bite becomes infected.  A course of antibiotics from you doctor is needed in this case. [break]

Find out more about flea bites on humans and how to treat them

Pet Fleas Will Not Live in Your Hair [break]

If you or someone in your family is suffering from an itchy scalp and you find insects in your hair, these are not fleas.  You are likely to be suffering from head lice, which are not associated with animals.  Head lice are spread by close contact between people (generally, but not always, children).  If you find head lice, treat them as head lice, not fleas.  Although you can buy special shampoos for head lice, it is often effective to treat them by wet combing: [break]

  • wet the hair thoroughly and apply conditioner (preferably containing tea tree oil) generously
  • comb through with a nit comb
  • rinse
  • repeat every couple of days until no signs of lice remain. [break]

Pet Fleas Will Live in Your Bed [break]

Fleas will infest any area of your home that they can reach.  If your pet has access to your bedroom, your bed will make an ideal breeding ground.   Flea eggs, larvae and pupae like dark, quiet places; your bed is perfect.  Once you get into bed, your warmth, breath and movement will send signals to the pupae to hatch into adult fleas and you will get bitten.  [break]

Even once you have killed any adult fleas on your pet, you must treat your home, paying attention to every part of the house that may be infested.   [break]

Fleas and Plague

The Bubonic Plague has swept across the world, decimating the population on a few occasions in the past.  If you know your history, you know that the disease (The Black Death) was transmitted to the human population by fleas carried on rats.  You may not know that the Bubonic Plague is still around today, although it is mercifully rare.  In 2010 for instance, there was just one case reported in the USA.

Pet fleas do not carry Bubonic Plague.  It is a disease associated with the fleas carried by rodents.   [break]

Summary  [break]

  • Your pet’s fleas will not live on you;
  • You will get bitten by fleas living in your home;
  • If you notice that you or your pet are affected by fleas, act immediately and avoid an infestation;
  • Human fleas are rare;
  • You are extremely unlikely to be seriously affected by a flea-borne disease. [break]

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