News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


New Research Shows Disease Lurks In Cat Fleas

News Release
For Immediate Release

January 11, 2006

New Research Shows Disease Lurks In Cat Fleas: Owners Urged To Use Unique Flea-Killer Treatment

Up to one in five fleas on pet cats are carrying bacterial diseases.

They can infect humans, according to the latest research.

Animal health company Merial NZ Ltd says a unique treatment will help stop humans needlessly catching diseases from their pets' fleas.

New research, from the University School of Veterinary Medicine in the West Indies, shows New Zealand cats and dogs are hosting fleas carrying several bacteria. People can be infected through scratches inflicted by their pets, especially cats, flea bites and contamination of itchy skin.

The study, using fleas taken from cats and dogs at veterinary clinics in Matamata, New Plymouth and Lower Hutt, concludes that emerging human pathogens (disease causing organisms) "are prevalent and widely distributed in cat fleas in the North Island of New Zealand".

It backs other recent findings from a French study of bacteria in cat fleas, which concluded: "Cat fleas may be more important vectors of human diseases than previously reported."

The latest research comes on top of studies showing the number of children being admitted to some New Zealand hospitals with serious skin infections, some resulting from untreated flea 'bites', rising by 61% over a seven year period.

Merial says its flea killer available nationwide is a unique "chemical double whammy" that disrupts the flea's lifecycle – and stops it reproducing.

Merial's technical advisor veterinarian, Dr Maureen Forsyth, of Auckland, says the product, FRONTLINE® Plus, not only kills adult fleas – but also stunts and deforms eggs and larvae.

An "adulticide" interferes with an adult flea's nervous system, effectively exciting them so they die of over activity. And a compound called (S)-methoprene is also used to mimic the flea's naturally occurring growth hormone and can stop most flea eggs developing into pupae. Those that do make it are deformed, providing a single-application product to totally disrupt the flea's lifecycle.

"There have been recent warnings that the number of animals diseases transferring to humans is increasing. Of new diseases emerging, 75% can be transferred from animals to humans. SARS and the bird flu are examples.

"Now the latest research says we should take seriously the prospect of becoming infected with diseases from our pets – because the fleas they host are infected," Forsyth says. "Especially at risk are children, older people and those recovering from major illness".

People can suffer fevers, lymph node swelling, nausea, rashes, headaches and malaise after being scratched by cats. Those with suppressed immune systems can suffer more serious complications. Occasionally, swollen lymph nodes from "cat scratch fever" can last a year.

"However, we should protect ourselves. Effective flea control is an easy answer for every pet owner. For about $1.65 a day for the average pet, the suffering can be greatly reduced," Forsyth says.

New Zealand is now in the midst of its annual flea breeding plague as temperatures go into the "optimum" range starting at 17 to 18 deg C, and humidity reaches 50% or more. These conditions can see a single female lay up to 40 to 50 eggs a day for up to 120 days. Newly emerged adult fleas suck up to 15 times their bodyweight in blood daily.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Electronica: Restoring The World’s First Recorded Computer Music

University of Canterbury Distinguished Professor Jack Copeland and UC alumni and composer Jason Long have restored the earliest known recording of computer-generated music, created more than 65 years ago using programming techniques devised by Alan Turing. More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Almost Getting Away With Murder

The Black Widow by Lee-Anne Cartier: Lee-Anne Cartier is the sister of the Christchurch man found to have been murdered by his wife, Helen Milner, after an initial assumption by police that his death, in 2009, was suicide. More>>

Howard Davis: Triple Echo - The Malevich/Reinhardt/Hotere Nexus

Howard Davis: The current juxtaposition of works by Ralph Hotere and Ad Reinhardt at Te Papa perfectly exemplifies Jean Michel Massing's preoccupation with the transmigration of imagery in a remarkable triple echo effect... More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Nō Tāu Manawa

Vaughan Rapatahana responds to Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avi: "fa’afetai Tusiata, fa’afetai, / you’ve swerved & served us a masterclass corpus / through graft / of tears & fears..." More>>

9 Golds - 21 Medals: NZ Team Celebrates As Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Close

The entire New Zealand Paralympic Team, led by kiwi sprinter and double gold medallist Liam Malone as flag bearer, are on the bus to the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro for the Closing Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. There, they will celebrate the fantastic successes of the past 10 days. More>>


New Zealand Improv Festival: The Festival Of Moments To Return To The Capital

The eighth incarnation of the New Zealand Improv Festival comes to BATS Theatre this 4-8 October , with a stellar line-up of spontaneous theatre and instant comedy performed and directed by top improvisors from around New Zealand and the world. More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news