Can Fleas Make People Sick?

Can Fleas Make People Sick
Image courtesy of Erturac CC by-S.A. 3.0

When you think about fleas, you likely think about your pets and how they can make your pets sick and miserable. However, fleas also pose a risk to people. They are known to spread a number of serious illnesses to people as well. Here are a few illnesses that people can catch from fleas.


Fleas are known carriers of tapeworms. While these are often more common in animals, tapeworms can infect humans as well. In order for both pets and people to catch the tapeworm, an infected flea must be ingested. Pets will accidentally ingest them when grooming or trying to remove the flea. Children are more likely to accidentally ingest a flea than an adult.

Bubonic Plague

Most people know that the bubonic plague was also called the Black death and it wiped out upwards of 75 million people during the Middle ages. There are still cases of it every year. Modern medicine has effective treatments if the disease is caught early enough and the mortality rate is a lot lower than it used to be. However, there can still be outbreaks in parts of the world.

Murine Typhus

Murine typhus is spread through fleas. It starts with a fever, and possibly vomiting. A rash may appear on about day five of the illness. This needs to be treated with an antibiotic in order to clear up the illness. The earlier the treatment begins the more quickly the patient will recover from the illness


Tularemia is a disease that can affect both people and animals. The symptoms depend on how it is spread, but if you contract it through a flea bite, you will have an ulcer develop where the flea bit you. If this happens you should go to the doctor and get on antibiotics. If you do not treat it at this stage, it can spread and develop into more serious forms of the illness including typhoidal or pneumonic.

Protect Yourself from Fleas

The best way to protect yourself from these diseases is to prevent fleas. You can do this by having a preventative flea treatment for you yard. You can also use flea preventives such as a flea collar, flea drops or an oral medication. This should stop you from getting a flea infestation in your home. Most of these illnesses are no longer very common in the United States, but there is still the chance of catching them. Before you travel to other countries, be sure to check to make sure there is not an outbreak.