Control of fleas in livestock,pets and houses

Fleas are a common problem in homes and in farms. Usually, they attack pets like dogs and cats. They also attack chicken, rabbits and other livestock too

In chicken, fleas will usually be found on the crest and around ears. In other animals, they will be found in the ears and in the fur. This is usually seen after careful inspection.

When the infestation is very high, fleas can be seen even on casual inspection. In very severe cases, they will stick on clothes when one comes near the area of the infestation and they will bite.

What are fleas

Fleas are blood sucking external parasites. They are insects of the order syphonaptera and several species occur. The common species include cat flea, dog flea and the human flea. They are wingless and their mouths are adapted to piercing the skin to suck blood. Usually, they are black or brownish in colour and are about 1.5 to 3mm long.

Dangers of fleas

  • Fleas are disease vectors and can transmit bacterial, viral and protozoan diseases that can negatively affect man, livestock and pests. However, fleas do not transmit HIV
  • Flea bites result in scratches that can lead to infection, allergies and inflammation
  • In extreme cases, hair loss and anemia may result

Prevent infestation from outside  in the first place!!

  1. Avoid contact between your livestock/pets and others
  2. Restrict contact between your livestock/pets and visitors
  3. Use dustcoats when entering chicken houses and change as soon as you leave the chicken house or livestock houses. Where possible, have a changing area at the entrance to these areas.
  4. Avoid cross-contact between animals. For example, cats and dogs should not be allowed to get into chicken coops.

Control methods

Once you have an infestation,

  1. Study the extent of the infestation in the compound, in pet and livestock houses, in fabrics and furniture. Understanding your enemy is a prerequisite in any war.
  2. Remove the livestock or pests and hold them somewhere (in a pen or temporary enclosure)
  3. Spray the livestock and pet houses thoroughly
  4. Spray the livestock and pets themselves thoroughly. Pay attention to hard to reach areas like in the ears and under the tails. for chicken, dabbing with insecticide is the best method. For cats and dogs, shampoos can be used.
  5. Allow the livestock houses, chicken coops and kennels to dry before taking the animals back

At any one time, 5% of the flea population is adult, the rest will be egg, larvae and pupa. This makes control difficult because most insecticides sold over the counter are formulated to kill adults.

Paraffin is used on a small scale to suffocate and kill fleas in chicken, however this does not provide a lasting solution.

NOTE: Use insecticides acaricides that are recommended for livestock when controlling fleas in livestock. For homes and houses special products have been formulated for this purpose. Follow the label instructions and consult a professional before using any insecticide

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