It is usually cats and dogs that bring fleas into a home – and more often in summer when fleas thrive; they tend to die off in cold weather.
Fleas live by sucking blood from the host animal. They do not live on the host all the time but usually in carpeting, bedding or furniture with easy access to the host.
If their preferred host is not available, they will make do with the blood from a human or another animal for a short time. Their bites cause pink spots that itch for three or four days and then disappear. Calamine lotion will ease the itching.
Fleas may get onto humans when they cuddle their pets, or may reach them from a chair or pet that a pet has been allowed on, or more commonly, they may bite children because children play on carpets that are harbouring fleas.
Regular treatment is best to keep fleas down. There are veterinary insecticidal shampoos for ridding dogs of fleas, but with cats especially, it is easier to dust on a veterinary flea powder. Sprinkle the powder on carpets also and suck it up later with a vacuum cleaner.
Wash the pet’s bedding regularly and spray it, and upholstery that may be affected, with an aerosol insecticide based on permethrin or methoprene.
Once fleas have moved in, carry out a thorough treatment to kill adult fleas. Repeat it ten days later to kill fleas that have matured during the ten days, but have not yet laid any eggs.