Study: U.S. states most at risk for flea-borne disease


April 19, 2023



A new study maps the threat of flea-borne disease to U.S. citizens with Texas being the most at risk.

As the U.S. enter flea season, the study is one part of a comprehensive guide put together by Excel Pest Services to raise awareness of the risks posed to Americans by fleas, including an analysis of where people are most at risk of flea-borne disease.

Texans are the most at risk of flea-borne diseases, followed by California and New Mexico — even though Utah, Kentucky and Iowa are the “most paranoid” about it, per the study.

Ryan Fowley, CEO of Excel Pest Services, said in the news release, “As temperatures rise, fleas may be able to survive in areas where they previously could not, leading to both the expansion of their range and longer flea seasons. Changes in temperature and weather patterns may also impact the populations of the animals that fleas feed on, such as rodents and wild animals, potentially leading to changes in flea populations. All in all, we predict more flea encounters.”

The research shows that although occurrence is rare, flea-borne disease should be taken seriously. Excel Pest Services used the most recent state-level health statistics and Google searches for cat scratch disease, typhus and the plague to compile its report.

Texas is the state with the worst combined rates for the most common flea-borne diseases, coming top for cat scratch disease and typhus and seventh for incidents of plague. Californians are next most likely to contract one of these flea-borne diseases, ranking second for typhus, fourth for plague, and fifth for cat scratch disease. Completing the Top 3, and ranking worst for the plague, is New Mexico, which also ranked third for typhus cases and eighth for cat-scratch diseases.

But despite cause for concern, it wasn’t these states which were most paranoid about these flea-borne diseases. Utah, Kentucky and Iowa were the most likely to search about symptoms of typhus, plague and cat scratch disease despite Utah placing 10th, Kentucky placing 27th and Iowa 43rd for the number of incidents.

“Fleas in the US are not necessarily dangerous in the sense that they pose a direct threat to human health. But fleas can transmit diseases to both humans and animals, and their bites can cause discomfort, itching, and allergic reactions. In severe cases, fleas can lead to anemia in pets, particularly in puppies and kittens,” Fowley said.

“Fleas can be difficult to get rid of once they infest a home or pet, as they reproduce quickly and can survive in various environments. This can lead to ongoing health problems for both humans and pets. So, while fleas may not be inherently dangerous, it is important to take measures to prevent and control their infestation to avoid potential health issues.”


About the Author

Ellen Wagner is a former digital editor for PMP magazine.

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