Veterinarians, vets and fleas are often described as “one in the same” when it comes to their role in the health of animals.
But with the emergence of a new breed of flea that can attack the human body in more subtle ways, they’re no longer just another animal.
Dr John T. Burt, a senior lecturer in veterinary medicine at the University of Adelaide, is one of the first to say the new breed is “not just another pest”.
“In the first year of this new breed, they killed more than 600 people,” he said.
“They’re pretty dangerous.
There are a lot of different things that they can do, including the ability to be contagious, so people need to be very careful if they come into contact with them.”
The Australian Flea Control Association (AFCA) has warned of the potential for the new type of fleas to spread the disease.
The new breed that can cause heart failure in humans is called “grey wolf” and is a new species that is currently considered a pest.
It was first spotted in Victoria in December and was reported to authorities in Sydney in March.
Dr Burt said the new fleas have evolved from “a tiny flea”, or “toad”, which was once common in Australia.
This new flea has evolved from a tiny fleas that once were common in Victoria, Dr John Burt says.
(Supplied: The Australian Fleas Control Association) “The fleas were very small, so they would crawl around on the ground and they would spread their genes,” he explained.
They evolved into what we now call “grey wolves” because it’s very hard to tell which species of fleabay it comes from.
Grey wolves are not known to be a real threat to humans, but if people come into close contact with the fleas, there could be an increased risk of contracting the disease, Dr Burt warned.
Fleas in the UK have been identified as a threat to human health and have been linked to the coronavirus, he said, adding that the new species is not a threat at all.
In the US, grey wolf attacks on humans have been blamed on “white-tailed deer” and there has been a spike in reported cases of coronaviral disease.