Fleas

BASICS

Definition:

Other Names:

Disease Process: Both mammalian and avian fleas can affect birds.2,3 Flea infestations are uncommon in pet birds;2,3,5 they may occur with a heavy household infestation or with access to wild birds.3 Fleas may be found running on or around the body or embedded in the skin of the face, head, or neck.2,3

Risk Factors: Access to wild birds; household with high flea burden

Contagious?:



CLINICAL DISEASE

Signalment: Most common in nestlings2,3

Symptoms:
  • iritability2,3
  • itchiness2,3,5
  • unthriftiness,2,3 poor feather condition5
  • weakness2,3
  • anemia2,3,5




DIAGNOSIS

Differentials:

Testing: Visualizing fleas3 or flea feces3 (when wetted, flea feces bleed red into a paper towel)



TREATMENT

Immediate: Insecticidal powder can be applied to flea-infested birds.3 Pyrethrin powder (light dusting) should be sufficient.5 One drop of a pyrethrin-based flea spray made for puppies and kittens may be safe for use on birds.5 Premises and environment should be cleaned using insecticidal powders/sprays2--do not use residual sprays where birds can contact them directly; other household pets should all be treated simultaneously.3

Long-term: Prevent direct access to wild birds and other free living animals.2,3 Repeat treatments weekly as necessary.3 Repeat treatment with pyrethrin, rotenone, carbaryl or malathion powder/spray every 2-3 weeks.2



TYPICAL OUTCOME

Flea infestations can be difficult to control as fleas are capable of surviving off the host and using alternate hosts.2

PREVENTION

Prevent direct access to wild birds. Eliminate flea burdens within the household. See #28 p 371

CONSIDERATIONS

Suggested Reading:

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