Fleas and the Plague


The recent news that a California resident tested positive for plague after visiting Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park this summer serves as a reminder of the dangers pests can present.

Plague is an infectious disease that affects rodents, certain other animals and humans, and is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people most commonly acquire plague when they are bitten by a flea that is infected with the plague bacteria.

Infected Fleas from Rodents

The infected fleas can be transported on rodents (rats and mice) and domestic pets, especially those who roam outdoors, that have come in contact with another infected animal. Cats are more prone to infection since they hunt rodents.

People can also become infected from direct contact with infected tissues or fluids while handling an animal that is sick with or that has died from plague. Finally, people can become infected from inhaling respiratory droplets after close contact with cats and humans with pneumonic plague.

Plague is Rare in California

While plague is a rare occurrence in California – the last reported case was in 2006 – plague is most likely to be found in the rural foothill and mountain regions, while the desert and Central Valley areas are considered low risk.

Western Exterminator does not want to unnecessarily alarm our customers about pests; our goal is to be your go-to source for pest information and to protect your family from pests and pest-related diseases that can do you harm.

Since flea bites are the primary transmitter of the plague we encourage homeowners to take extra steps this summer to protect their pets and yards from fleas.

Flea Control Tips

Mr. Little recommends the following Four Flea Control Tips to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your home:

  1. Even if you don’t have pets you, your yard and home can be plagued by fleas. Animals such as feral cats, opossums or rodents are flea transporters. Traps and exclusion methods can prevent them from settling in.
  2. All surfaces that pets spend time on should be cleaned regularly. Vacuum pet hair from floors, wall-floor junctions, upholstered furniture, and base of furnishings where pets rest. Remove the used vacuum bag immediately, seal in a plastic bag, and dispose in an outside trash bin. Wash pet bedding in warm water regularly.
  3. In exterior areas, concentrate on places where pets spend time including lawns and shaded areas under landscape bushes. Keep your grass cut, and trim weeds and overgrown shrubbery which give fleas shelter.
  4. For on-animal prevention and treatment options, please consult with your veterinarian. We love cats and dogs, but we don’t treat them.

The health threats posed by rodents and other pests including cockroaches, birds, mosquitoes, stinging insects and ants are very real and should be taken seriously. Western Exterminator’s team of highly-trained Service Technicians and entomologists combine years of in-the-field experience with the latest products and service techniques to effectively eliminate harmful pests.

Do you have concerns or questions about potentially harmful pests? If so, I want to hear from you. You can send me an e-mail at [email protected]. I’ll be sure to get back to you right away with an answer.

Until next time, thanks for making Western Exterminator Company “The Final Word in Pest Control®.”


Mr. Little

He’s represented Western for nearly a century. But he’s no old fogey. Follow Mr. Little’s blog for pest tips and facts!

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