Flea allergy and control

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Flea infestations of pets and the home environment are a common occurrence. Fleas are responsible for the production and transmission of several diseases, including (the causative agent of cat scratch fever), (tapeworms) and feline leukaemia virus (FeLV). Furthermore, flea allergy dermatitis, also called flea bite hypersensitivity, is the most common small animal dermatological condition in the world. Although more than 2000 species have been identified, the flea that causes most of the problems to dogs and cats is , the common cat flea. It accounts for 92% and 99% of the fleas found on dogs and cats, respectively. In many areas a wide range of non-domestic animals can harbour and thus serve as a continuous source of fleas to pets. In the United States, the racoon, fox, skunk and opossum are especially known to create 'source points' in the immediate environment (e.g. outdoors under the house). The chapter addresses Flea biology; Pathogenesis; Clinical approach; and Treatment.

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20.1 Signs of acute pruritus on the caudal dorsum of an adult Fox Terrier. Note the excoriation at the base of the tail.
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20.2 Lhasa Apso with a history of flea allergy dermatitis lasting several years. The alopecia and hyperpigmentation extend in a wedge-shaped pattern to the mid-scapular region.
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20.3 Lateral view of a young male terrier-cross showing the typical distribution of flea allergy dermatitis concentrated on the caudal half of the dog. Dorsal view. Note the lichenification and hyperpigmentation, indicating a more long-standing pruritus.
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20.4 A fibropruritic nodule on the flank of a dog with long-standing pruritus secondary to flea allergy dermatitis.
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20.5 Caudodorsal view of an adult cat with selfinduced alopecia secondary to flea allergy dermatitis.
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20.6 Close-up view of miliary dermatitis and alopecia on an adult Shorthaired cat, secondary to flea allergy dermatitis.
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20.7 Close-up view of an eosinophilic plaque on the ventrum of a cat, secondary to chronic pruritus caused by flea allergy dermatitis.
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20.8 Positive immediate (within 15 minutes) intradermal test reaction to flea antigen in a Golden Retriever. Top left: negative saline control. Top right: positive histamine control. Bottom: Flea antigen. (Reproduced from with permission from Elsevier)
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