Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Flea bite hypersensitivity

Synonym(s): Flea allergic dermatitis

Contributor(s): Rosanna Marsella, Ian Mason, Richard Squires, David Scarff

Introduction

  • Most common cause of skin disease in cats.
  • Cause: sensitization to flea salivary allergens.
  • Signs: miliary dermatitis  Dermatitis: miliary, symmetrical alopecia, eosinophilic skin disease or any combination.
  • Diagnosis: evidence of fleas + response to flea control +/- positive reaction to intradermal flea antigen.
  • Treatment: flea control.
  • Prognosis: excellent.
    Print off the Owner factsheet on All about fleas All about fleas  to give to your client.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

Predisposing factors

General

  • Contact with fleas.
  • Multi-animal households.
  • Contact with free-ranging cats.
  • History of exposure to the tapeworm Dipylidium caninum, for which the flea is the intermediate host Dipylidium caninum.

Pathophysiology

  • Hypersensitivity is triggered by flea salivary proteins.
  • Most cats show an IgE immediate-type hypersensitivity reaction. Flea bite   →   development of weal and flare within 15-30 min (persists for up to 72 hours)   →   pruritus   →   miliary dermatitis, alopecia or eosinophilic skin disease.
  • In other species there is evidence that a small number of animals show a delayed reaction (probably lymphocyte mediated) at 24-72 hours post-bite.
  • Others show a late-phase IgE reaction which is basophil mediated at approximately 6 hours post-bite.

Epidemiology

  • See flea life cycle Lifecycle: Ctenocephalides canis - diagram .

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Kunkle G A, McCall C A, Stedman K E et al (2003) Pilot study to assess the effects of early flea exposure on the development of flea hypersensitivity in cats. J Feline Med Surg (5), 287-294 PubMed.
  • Colombini S, Hodgin E C, Foil C S et al (2001) Induction of feline flea allergy dermatitis and the incidence and histopathological characteristics of concurrent indolent lip ulcers. Vet Dermatol 12 (3), 155-161 PubMed.
  • Boy M G, Six R H, Thomas C A et al (2000) Efficacy and safety of selamectin against fleas and heartworms in dogs and cats presented as veterinary patients in North America. Vet Parasitol 91 (3-4), 233-250 PubMed.
  • Lee S E, Johnstone I E, Lee R P et al (1999) Putative salivary allergens of the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis. Vet Immunol Immunopathol 69 (2-4), 229-237 PubMed.
  • Blagburn B L, Vaughan J L, Lindsay D S et al (1994) Efficacy of lufenuron against developmental stages of fleas (Ctenocephalides felis felis) in cats. Am J Vet Res 55 (1), 98-101 PubMed.
  • McKeon S E & Opdebeeck J P (1994) IgG and IgE antibodies against antigens of the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis sera of allergic and non-allergic dogs. Int J Parasitol 24 (2), 259-263 PubMed.
  • Mason K V & Evans A G (1991) Mosquito bite-caused eosinophilic dermatitis in cats. JAVMA 198 (12), 2086-2088 PubMed.
  • Plant J D (1991) Recognizing the manifestations of flea allergy in cats. Vet Med 86 (5), 482-486 VetMedResource.
  • Moriello K A & McMurdy M A (1989) Feline flea allergy dermatitis - Practice tips on making a diagnosis. Comp An Pract 19 (4-5), 23-27 VetMedResource.


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