The cat flea Ctenocephalides felis felis
(Bouché) is the most important ectoparasite of domestic cats and dogs worldwide. It has been two decades since the last comprehensive review concerning the biology and ecology of C. f. felis
and its management. Since then there have been major advances in our understanding of the diseases associated with C. f. felis
and their implications for humans and their pets. Two rickettsial diseases, flea-borne spotted fever and murine typhus, have been identified in domestic animal populations and cat fleas. Cat fleas are the primary vector of Bartonella henselae
(cat scratch fever) with the spread of the bacteria when flea feces are scratched in to bites or wounds. Flea allergic dermatitis (FAD) common in dogs and cats has been successfully treated and tapeworm infestations prevented with a number of new products being used to control fleas. There has been a continuous development of new products with novel chemistries that have focused on increased convenience and the control of fleas and other arthropod ectoparasites. The possibility of feral animals serving as potential reservoirs for flea infestations has taken on additional importance because of the lack of effective environmental controls in recent years. Physiological insecticide resistance in C. f. felis
continues to be of concern, especially because pyrethroid resistance now appears to be more widespread. In spite of their broad use since 1994, there is little evidence that resistance has developed to many of the on-animal or oral treatments such as fipronil, imidacloprid or lufenuron. Reports of the perceived lack of performance of some of the new on-animal therapies have been attributed to compliance issues and their misuse. Consequentially, there is a continuing need for consumer awareness of products registered for cats and dogs and their safety.
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