7 Diseases Spread by Fleas and Ticks

Treat fleas on your dog

Fleas and ticks can bring about some grave diseases that could affect both humans and their pets. If not treated immediately, these diseases can cause long-term complications or worse, death. In order for you to lessen the risk of having these diseases, you should control fleas and ticks inside your household and learn more about the diseases that the fleas and ticks could spread listed below.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can be acquired when ticks that are infected with Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium bite humans, dogs, and cats. Humans are not infected when they get in contact with pets with the disease but if they are bitten by ticks that reside on the pet’s bodies, they will get the disease.

The type of tick popularly known as blacklegged tick most often transmits the disease to humans, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You will get infected if the tick latches on to the human body for at least 36 hours. If the tick was able to get attached to the host’s body for this period of time and was able to transmit the disease, symptoms of Lyme disease including fever, fatigue, headaches, rash, swollen joints, facial palsy, arthritis and inflammation of the brain and spinal cord will occur.

To keep the transmission of Lyme disease from happening, homeowners should learn how to regulate a tick infestation. Make sure as well to use the appropriate techniques to eradicate ticks if you or your pet is bitten.


Brought about by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, plague is a serious disease affecting humans that takes place when fleas carrying this bacterium bite humans and animals. Fleas are infected by this bacterium through rodents. In order to lessen the probability of spreading this disease, a homeowner must be mindful in controlling rat populations in their home. Symptoms of this disease include swollen and tender lymph nodes, fever, chills, headaches, and extreme weakness. If not treated right away, plague can result in serious medical complications or even death.


Transmitted by the infected lone star tick, a bacterial disease called Ehrlichiosis normally occurs within the eastern and southcentral United States. Symptoms of this disease include fever, fatigue, and headaches.

Persons who have compromised immune systems, such as those with cancer or HIV infection, are most likely to acquire Ehrlichiosis. To treat this disease, one must take antibiotics.

Again, to prevent this from happening, homeowners should control tick infestation within their homes and the surrounding woodlands too.

Tapeworm Infection

Affecting dogs, cats, and in some cases, humans, tapeworm infection occurs when a pet swallows a flea that is infected with the larvae of a tapeworm. Also known as Dipylidium, this infection happens when a pet scratches a spot that is infested with fleas or just by grooming themselves.

When you or your pet swallows the fleas, the tapeworm larvae will move to the intestines and will reside there. Over time, these larvae will grow into adult tapeworms. If you or your pet is infected with tapeworm, you may experience weight loss or irritation around the anus.

You can prevent being infected with tapeworms if there is a control in flea infestation. If you’re infected with tapeworm, there are medications that dissolve tapeworm within the intestines.

Rocky mountain spotted fever

When a human gets bitten by ticks that are infected with a bacterium called Rickettsia rickettsii, rocky mountain spotted fever could occur. This tick-borne disease may result in death if not treated the soonest the symptoms begin. Rash, fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain are the symptoms of rocky mountain spotted fever.

To lessen the chances of having this disease, you should protect your pets from ticks. You should also avoid areas where ticks often grow such as woodlands or bushy areas that have high grass or many fallen leaves. If these areas are unavoidable, protect yourself by wearing repellants that contain DEET or wear clothes that have been treated with Permethrin. You could prevent bites as well by wearing long-sleeved tops.

Cat Scratch Fever

When a cat is bitten by a flea that has Bartonella henselae bacterium, this could result in cat scratch fever. This disease could be transmitted to humans if an infected cat scratched or bit you or when they lick a person’s open wound. The scratch or bite becomes swollen and red and could contain pus sometimes. Cat scratch fever could also infect lymph nodes and make it swollen or become painful. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, headaches, and fever.

To refrain from having this disease, once you’ve been bitten or scratched by a cat, wash it immediately with soap and running water. You should also make it a habit of hand washing after you play with cats. Additionally, make sure that your cat’s nails are always trimmed and that the fleas on your cat are regulated. If there is a serious case of flea infestation, consider seeking help from a pest control expert.