Are cat flea infestations increasing? Your views sought

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Is there any truth in media reports of a cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) epidemic this summer and, if cat flea infestations are increasing, what’s the cause? We”d like your help to answer these and other flea-related questions.

BBC Radio 4’s consumer programmeYou and Yours has been flooded with reports of cat flea infestations following its broadcast on this topic last month. Articles have also appeared in the national press and on the BBC News website, with some of the pest control forums taking up the story too.

Some are putting the increase down to two mild, wet summers which, combined with well insulated houses and relatively mild winters, have allowed populations to thrive. Others suggest that it’s the rise of online sales of flea treatment products which has meant that pet owners now often bypass vets and the advice that they can give on tackling flea problems. Yet others are putting the increase down to a rise in resistance to some of the most commonly applied treatments?

Dr Tim Nuttall, veterinary dermatologist at the University of Liverpool, has no doubt that fleas have been increasing, at least over the past five years and particularly over the last two. He says that while resistance is an inevitable part of evolution, the current problem largely appears to be pet owners not properly applying treatments.

So what is going on? Not that long ago, flea treatments were a significant part of a pest controller’s workload, but, with the introduction of spot-on veterinary medicine products, like Frontline, the amount of flea work being done has declined. Is it now on the rise again? We’d like to know if you’ve seen any increase in the incidence of fleas and whether you’ve experienced any problems in treating them.



 Cat flea

Are cat fleas on the increase?

Tell us what your experience is – your views sought
To assess the situation, we’ve put together a short survey to try to get a snapshot of the current position in the UK. The survey is a series of quick questions and will take no more than five minutes to complete. We plan to summarise the results in the next edition of Pestmagazine.

Click here to take part in our survey

Deadline for replies is midnight on Sunday 30 September.

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