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Flea & Ticks

Flea & Ticks

What are Ticks and Fleas?

Ticks are small arachnids that feed on human and animal blood to survive. These parasites make their habitat in wooded areas and fields. Also, ticks are known to carry several harmful diseases that they transmit to their host when they bite them.

Fleas are small, flat insects that, like ticks, need human and animal blood to survive. Fleas are wingless creatures and mainly target the hairy parts of mammals and the plumage of birds as their feeding ground. Globally, there are more than 2,400 species of fleas. However, only a few of these species feed on humans and animals.

The Difference Between a Flea and Tick

Ticks are classified as arachnids, while fleas are insects. They also target a different assortment of hosts.

Fleas tend to have fewer hosts as compared to ticks. For example, some hosts for fleas are:

  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Raccoons
  • Foxes
  • Humans

The list of possible hosts for ticks is longer, including:

  • Birds
  • Rodents
  • Snakes
  • Lizards
  • Foxes
  • Deer
  • Rabbits
  • Cattle
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Humans

Apart from these attributes, ticks and fleas also differ with a number of their other characteristics.

What Causes Flea and Tick Infestation?

Without hosts, both fleas and ticks will not be able to survive. These parasites spread easily once they find a host. Some common overall causes that lead to a flea and tick infestation include:

  • Even so much as a single tick or flea entering your home. They then lay their eggs in different parts of your home, including on furniture, under rugs or curtains and elsewhere.
  • Warm and hot weather.
  • Having fleas and / or ticks brought into your home by your pet.
  • Home being in the proximity of a wooded area or field
  • Encountering a flea or tick when outside. The parasite will attach itself to your skin and come home with you.

However, bear in mind the fact that these are just a collection of the most common causes that lead to flea and tick infestations. There are numerous species of fleas and ticks worldwide, and each of them can be present in an environment due to any number of different factors.

Types of Fleas

  • Dog Fleas
  • Cat Fleas
  • Human Fleas
  • Oriental Rat Fleas
  • Northern Rat Fleas

Types of Ticks

  • Deer Ticks
  • American Dog Ticks
  • Lone Star Ticks
  • Brown Dog Tick
  • Rocky Mountain Wood Tick
  • Pacific Coast Tick
  • Gulf Coast Tick
  • Western Black-Legged Tick
  • Cayenne Tick

The several types of ticks and fleas and the illnesses they cause make it even more important that we focus on developing flea and tick prevention programs.

Signs and Symptoms

Fleas and ticks are known to attach themselves to any part of your body. Some common flea and tick infestation areas include:

  • Your groin
  • Underarms
  • Inside your ears
  • In your hair
  • Inside your belly button
  • Behind your knee

Often, people may not check these areas for a flea or tick bite. In the interest of making you more informed, here is a list of the symptoms that can occur due to a flea or tick bite.

Flea Bite Signs

Flea bites can cause either an allergic reaction or a secondary infection in humans. If you experience any of these adverse side-effects, contact your doctor immediately.

  • Trouble breathing
  • Nausea
  • Swollen lips and face
  • Fever
  • Experiencing chills
  • Body aches and pains
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Developing a rash

Tick Bite Signs

Tick bites have their own set of complications. Some people may have an allergic reaction to them. The symptoms include:

  • Experiencing pain at the bite wound
  • Swelling of the bitten area
  • Developing rash
  • Experiencing a burning sensation at the bite area
  • Blistering
  • Trouble breathing

Ticks are also known to carry diseases. The signs of a tick disease include:

  • A red spot near or on the bite area
  • A rash near or on the bite site
  • Stiff neck
  • Full body rash
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Swelling of lymph nodes

Treatment

  • Flea treatment

There are numerous remedies for treating flea bites. These range from simple home remedies to over-the-counter medicines. Some treatments include:

  • Applying an ice-pack to the area where the flea bit you. This will reduce inflammation.
  • Applying Aloe Vera gel to numb and soothe the area.
  • Apply Witch Hazel to prevent the area from getting itchy.
  • Applying rubbing alcohol to dry out the bite wound.
  • Applying tea tree oil to reduce the urge to scratch the bitten area.

Other Treatments include using:

  • Anti-histamine medicine
  • Cortisone
  • Calamine lotion
  • Flea control

For flea control, these are suggested guidelines:

Flea Control around / in the house

  • Vacuum: This method will ensure that you pick up all cocoons, organic compounds and adult flea fecal debris that serve as a survival and breeding ground for fleas.
  • Spot Treatment: After you clean up, apply flea control pesticide sprays in areas where fleas are likely to develop. These include your yard, under rugs and curtains and other such areas. You may also make use of boric acid.

Flea control in pets

Controlling fleas on pets can be achieved through:

  • Giving oral pills
  • Sprays
  • Lotions/creams
  • Shampoos
  • Powders

Also, regular visits to the vet will ensure that your pet is checked and groomed properly. At home, you should also keep a close tab on your pet and groom them at home as well.

The same aforementioned treatment and control should be followed for ticks. However, you may remove the tick at home using tweezers and then show it to your doctor. The doctor may then prescribe a specific treatment for you accordingly.

References:

  1. Cesar’s Way – The difference between fleas and ticks
  2. TickEncounter Resource Center – Tick Species
IMPORTANT NOTE: The above information is intended to increase awareness of health information and does not suggest treatment or diagnosis. This information is not a substitute for individual medical attention and should not be construed to indicate that use of the drug is safe, appropriate, or effective for you. See your health care professional for medical advice and treatment.

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