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Flea Bites and Other Diseases Caused by Fleas

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Arthropods and Human Skin

Abstract

Fleas have been associated with man and animals from time immemorial. There must be few people who have never been bitten by a flea. They cause local reactions to their bite and are the vectors of some serious infectious diseases (Table 11.1). The latter fact is important because their biology requires that they partake of a meal of blood from some warm–blooded animal (bird or mammal) in order to reach maturity or to lay fertile eggs. This makes them voracious feeders and therefore biters. Their distribution is geographically and socially cosmopolitan, but they are most commonly encountered in conditions of overcrowding or primitive dwelling. They appear to be present in California in astronomical numbers and are prominently recorded in the history of that State (Anonymous 1936; Lunsford 1949). A significant note was made by the anonymous author in 1936 that a French traveller, La Perouse, had observed that “the indigenous Indians live in huts which they can conveniently set fire to when the fleas become troublesome and they can build another in less than two hours.” Many other interesting tales of the effects of fleas on immigrants are told in these two papers, which also serve to emphasise the importance of immunological reactions following bites.

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O’Donel Alexander, J. (1984). Flea Bites and Other Diseases Caused by Fleas. In: Arthropods and Human Skin. Springer, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4471-1356-0_11

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4471-1356-0_11

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