Pet owner reveals horror after three-year flea infestation

A pet owner reveals how a flea infestation that plagued her home for more than three years led to carpets being replaced in the whole house.

Katie Pearce from Ashford, Kent had no idea her pet Springer Spaniel, Jet had fleas when she went away on a family holiday in July 2014.

She left Jet with a friend for the duration of the one-week holiday, but when Katie returned to her home, she discovered her living room was infested in fleas.

Katie said: “I sat down on the sofa and within seconds I was covered in fleas. They jumped out of the carpet, all over the sofa and onto me. I was frantic, I ran out of the back door and started shaking them off me.

“I’d never seen a flea before, but I was covered. They had been lying dormant in the carpets and as soon as I’d walked through the door it was like they sprung into life. They were starving by the time I got home.”

Katie brought fumigation bombs and treated 12-year old Jet with a four-week treatment, and although the treatments worked initially, just after a few weeks, Katie noticed the fleas again.

The flea’s pupa stage can last in the environment for months, so while Katie was treating the adult fleas effectively, it takes at least 12 weeks of continuous treatment to break the full flea lifecycle.

Katie continued: “Just when we thought we’d got rid of these we’d see another one, and then another one again. I became so jumpy every time I saw a piece of fluff, I was convinced it was a flea, I was constantly on edge. It was so embarrassing; I didn’t want people to come to the house because I was terrified in case they saw a flea. I didn’t want people to think we were living in a flea infested house. It was horrible.”

By September 2018, more than four years after she first noticed the fleas, Katie’s house was still infested. Katie decided to take drastic action and decided to rip up all the carpets.

She said: “It felt drastic, but I didn’t know what else to do. It was clear the fleas were laying eggs in the carpet and then laying dormant. I decided the only way I’d be able to get rid of them for good was to get rid of the carpets completely.”

Katie removed the carpets and had bare floors for six months, while she continued to fumigate the house. In the meantime, she took Jet to the vet, who informed her of the flea lifecycle and the importance of using a product continuously for a full 12 weeks.

“In January 2019, following this advice from the vets I changed the way I was treating Jet and I could see the difference straightaway,” Katie said. “The product from the vet was much more effective the anything we’d tried before.

“After no sign of fleas for a few months, we finally decided to replace the carpets in March 2019. It cost around £4000 in total, but it was the only way we could guarantee they would be gone for good. We haven’t seen any fleas for a good few months now, but I’m still on edge about them ever returning. I never imagined a flea infestation could have such an impact.”

Katie is sharing her story in conjunction with MSD’s The Big Flea Project, which aims to highlight the dangers of flea infestations.

The Big Flea Project recently revealed that out of 1,475 pets studied in 1 n 4 cats and 1 in 7 dogs were found to be carrying fleas and of the flea samples studies 11% carried Bartonella, an infectious bacterium that can cause disease and be dangerous to humans.

A survey carried out by The Big Flea Project revealed more that three quarters of Brits (79%) admitted they did not know fleas carried pathogens such as Bartonella, with a third of those surveyed admitting they had been bitten by fleas.

Five per cent claim they’d been left permanently scarred by flea bites, highlighting the prominence of the issue in the UK.

Talking about Katie’s experience, Hannah Newbury a vet from MSD Animal Health commented: “Fleas are often a major source of irritation and can potentially carry diseases for both pets and humans alike, which is why it was so important for The Big Flea Project to gain a better understanding of the extent and nature of the risk fleas pose in the UK.

“Pet owners should be aware that 95% of a flea infestation is actually in the environment, therefore at least 12 weeks of continuous treatment of all pets is required to break the flea lifecycle. My advice to any owner is to speak to their vet about effective flea control for their pets.”

For more information you can visit the Big Flea Project website