Do Fleas Transmit Diseases?

Do Fleas Transmit Diseases?

Yes, fleas can transmit diseases. These tiny pests are known carriers of several illnesses, including the Bubonic Plague, Murine Typhus, and Tungiasis. They can also spread tapeworms and cause allergic reactions. Understanding the risks associated with fleas is crucial for health and safety. Effective flea control and prevention are essential in mitigating these risks.

The Hidden Dangers of Fleas

Fleas are more than just a nuisance. These tiny pests, often associated with pets, are notorious for their bites and the discomfort they cause. However, their impact goes beyond mere irritation. Fleas are known carriers of various diseases, posing a significant health risk to both pets and humans. With insights from Orkin’s pest control, we aim to provide comprehensive information on how to protect yourself and your pets from the hidden dangers of fleas.

Understanding Flea-Borne Diseases

Fleas, small as they may seem, are vectors for a range of diseases, affecting both humans and animals. Their ability to jump from host to host makes them efficient carriers of various pathogens. Here’s a closer look at some of the diseases transmitted by fleas:

a flea on a piece of gauze.

Problems with Flea?

Our local Pros are the pest experts in your area.

Or give us a call: (866) 249-0292

Save $50

on your first recurring service today with code GET50

  • Murine Typhus – This disease is transmitted by fleas from infected rats to humans. Caused by Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia felis, symptoms include fever, headache, and rash. It’s more common in tropical and subtropical regions.
  • Tungiasis – Caused by the burrowing flea Tunga penetrans, this disease is prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, South America, and India. The fleas burrow into the skin, particularly the feet, causing painful lesions and secondary infections.
  • Tapeworms – Fleas are intermediate hosts for certain types of tapeworms, like Dipylidium caninum. Pets can ingest infected fleas during grooming, leading to tapeworm infestation. Humans, especially children, can accidentally ingest infected fleas, leading to a similar condition.
  • Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) – While not directly transmitted by fleas, CSD is associated with them. Fleas transmit Bartonella henselae bacteria to cats, and humans can get infected through a scratch or bite from an infected cat.
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD) – This is more of an allergic reaction than a disease, but it’s worth mentioning. Some pets and humans are allergic to flea saliva, leading to intense itching and discomfort.
An Orkin tech placing a mosquito control sign in a yard


To protect your home from pests, click here for a free pest control estimate. Our Orkin Pros will create a personalized pest treatment plan for your home or business

or Call (866) 249-0292

The Transmission of Flea-Borne Diseases

Understanding how fleas transmit diseases is crucial in comprehending the risks they pose and the importance of effective control measures. The cycle often begins when a flea bites an infected host, typically a rodent or a pet. During this process, the flea ingests the blood that contains the disease-causing bacteria or parasites. After feeding on the infected blood, the pathogens may reside within the flea’s gut. As the flea continues its lifecycle, these pathogens can be maintained and sometimes multiply within the flea.

Flea-to-Host Transmission

When the infected flea bites a new host, such as a human or a pet, it can transmit the disease. This transmission can occur in several ways:

  • Direct Transmission – The most straightforward method is through the flea’s bite itself. As the flea feeds on the host’s blood, it can regurgitate blood containing the pathogen back into the bite wound.
  • Fecal Transmission – Fleas excrete feces that contain pathogens. If these feces come into contact with open wounds, mucous membranes, or are inadvertently ingested, the pathogens can enter the host’s body.
  • Intermediate Host Transmission – In some cases, fleas act as intermediate hosts. For example, with tapeworms, the flea ingests the tapeworm eggs, which then develop into larvae within the flea. When a pet or human ingests an infected flea, usually during grooming or by accident, the tapeworm larvae are transmitted.
  • Environmental Factors – The environment plays a significant role in the transmission cycle. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupae in the environment can become infected, perpetuating the cycle. Warm, humid conditions often contribute to higher flea populations, increasing the risk of disease transmission.

Recognizing the Symptoms

Identifying flea-borne diseases can be challenging due to the variety of symptoms. However, some common signs can alert you to a potential problem:

  • For Humans – Symptoms often start with bites that are small, red, and itchy. If a disease is transmitted, symptoms can escalate to fever, headaches, rashes, and in severe cases, swollen lymph nodes or muscle pain. It’s crucial to seek medical attention if these symptoms appear after known flea exposure.
  • For Pets – Pets with fleas may scratch, lick, or bite their fur excessively. Signs of flea allergy dermatitis include red, irritated skin, hair loss, and scabs. In severe cases, pets might show signs of anemia, such as lethargy and pale gums, especially in heavy infestations.

Understanding these diseases and their symptoms is crucial in identifying and addressing flea infestations promptly. At Orkin, we emphasize the importance of early detection and professional intervention to safeguard your health and that of your pets. Remember, the best defense against flea-borne diseases is effective flea control and prevention, areas where Orkin excels.

Preventing flea infestations is crucial. Regular cleaning, vacuuming, and treating pets with veterinarian-approved flea control products are essential steps. However, when an infestation occurs, professional intervention is often necessary.

Orkin’s Role in Flea Control

At Orkin, we understand the seriousness of flea infestations. Our approach combines advanced techniques and expert knowledge to effectively tackle flea problems. We offer comprehensive solutions that not only address current infestations but also help prevent future occurrences.

Our team at Orkin is equipped with the tools and knowledge to provide effective flea control solutions. We assess the situation, identify the infestation source, and implement targeted treatments to eliminate fleas and reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Dealing with fleas can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. Orkin is here to help. Our expertise in pest control ensures that your home or business is free from these harmful pests. Call us for a consultation and take the first step towards a flea-free environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can fleas transmit diseases to humans?

Yes, fleas can transmit diseases to humans, including the Bubonic Plague and Murine Typhus.

How do fleas transmit diseases?

Fleas transmit diseases through their bites, by transferring pathogens from infected hosts to humans or pets.

Can fleas cause allergic reactions?

Yes, some people and pets may develop allergic reactions to flea bites, known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis.

Are pets at risk of diseases from fleas?

Yes, pets are at risk of diseases from fleas, including tapeworms and flea-borne illnesses.

How can I protect my pet from flea-borne diseases?

Regular use of veterinarian-approved flea control products and maintaining a clean environment can protect your pet from flea-borne diseases.

What are the symptoms of flea-borne diseases in humans?

Symptoms in humans can include fever, headaches, rashes, and in severe cases, swollen lymph nodes.

What are the signs of flea infestation in pets?

Signs include excessive scratching, hair loss, red and irritated skin, and in severe cases, anemia.

Can flea infestations be prevented?

Yes, with regular cleaning, vacuuming, and the use of flea control products, flea infestations can be prevented.


The threat posed by fleas is not to be underestimated. These tiny pests are more than just a source of irritation; they are potential carriers of serious diseases that can affect both humans and pets. Understanding the diseases transmitted by fleas, recognizing the symptoms, and taking proactive measures for control and prevention are essential steps in safeguarding health. Remember, effective flea control involves more than just treating the individual bites; it requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both the fleas and their environment. With Orkin’s expertise in pest management, you can ensure that your home or business is protected from the risks associated with fleas. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help in managing flea infestations. Your health and the well-being of your pets may depend on it.

Orkin tech smiling while getting out of his car


To protect your home from pests, click here for a free pest control estimate. Our Orkin Pros will create a personalized pest treatment plan for your home or business

or Call (866) 249-0292