Diseases Spread By Fleas and Ticks

The thought of having disease-carrying bugs on your pet is both unpleasant and disturbing. Fleas and ticks feed off the blood of the host animal and if the host animal is unavailable then a human makes a nice replacement. The thought of having fleas in your home is disconcerting,to say the least. Beyond the fact that this is very annoying, it can result in the need to bomb your home with chemicals.

In extreme cases, it can mean removing carpeting and throwing away furniture. Fleas and ticks are more than just annoying, they can be dangerous. They are both carriers of serious diseases. Here are just a few of the diseases that can be spread by fleas and ticks.


According to Doctor Jennifer Broadhurst, of the Jacksonville Humane Society, “Symptoms of tick-borne illnesses include fever, anemia, decreased appetite, depression and limping.”

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is spread by ticks. There are three different ticks that can spread this disease to an animal, the Brown Dog Tick, the Lone Star Tick and the Wood Tick. These are each most common in a specific part of the United States. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is not confined to the Rocky Mountain area but has become quite prevalent in the eastern United States. This is a very serious disease which can be spread to humans and may result in death if left undiagnosed and untreated. In addition to the other symptoms of tick-born diseases, with Rocky Mountain fever, there may be a rash.

Lyme Disease is spread by the Deer Tick. It has been found in dogs, horses and cattle. Mice and deer are hosts but they are not adversely affected by the ticks. The main symptoms are lameness, fever, swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints or the inability to easily get up and down or climb stairs (for dogs, not horses and cattle). There is a vaccine that can help to minimize the symptoms in pets but it is not 100 percent protection against infection. Lyme disease may result in permanent damage to the heart or kidneys in dogs and ultimately cause death.

Babesiosis is a vicious disease that is most common among young animals and puppies are especially susceptible. It causes vomiting, lethargy, and anemia. This disease affects the red blood cells and is particularly lethal. It is most common in the southeastern area of the United States. In other parts of the world, this disease is much more prevalent and it can infect goats, sheep, and other animals.

Ehrlichiosis is a disease common to dogs and also to wolves. Another name for this disease is “canine hemorrhage fever” which is the perfect description of what this disease is all about. It can result in major organ damage and death if left untreated.


Typhus can be passed from infected animals to other animals and humans by fleas.

Bubonic Plague, which once decimated the population of the world, is spread by rats that carry the fleas which then end up infecting both domestic animals and people.

Cat Scratch Fever can also be passed by fleas that have bitten a cat infected with the disease and then pass it on to a new host. It can be transmitted to humans.
These are just some of the diseases that can be acquired from exposure to ticks and fleas. It isn’t just about scratching and being uncomfortable, it is a matter of life and death. These diseases infect both domestic animals and wild animals.

Photo credit: Pixabay ticks_1422992839.jpg

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