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What are parasitic diseases transmitted by tick, flea, and other insect bites?

Vector-Borne Disease: An Introduction

Diseases transmitted by fleas

Fleas parasitize dogs and cats all year round. When they ingest fleas that are irritating them, they can be contaminated by a small digestive worm (Dipylidium caninum). Fleas also contribute to the transmission of a bacterium that is responsible for cat scratch disease (or bartonellosis), an infection that is sometimes contracted by people who have been scratched.


Diseases transmitted by ticks

Ticks live in vegetation and attach themselves to animals passing by. Ticks transmit a disease that can be fatal for the dog, babesiosis (or piroplasmosis). Ticks are also involved in the spread of canine erlichiosis, a bacterial disease that plagues the south of France. 

Lyme disease (or borreliosis) is a disease responsible for chronic neurological and articular disorders affecting humans but also dogs (more rarely cats).


Diseases transmitted by sandflies

Sandflies are small flying insects. They can transmit the agent of leishmaniasis to humans, dogs and much more rarely to cats. This disease is widespread in Mediterranean regions, but it is progressing towards the north.


Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes

In the south-east of France, mosquitoes can be vectors of heartworm disease, a disease caused by worms that settle under the skin. Worse , worms can lodge in the vessels of the heart and disrupt the heart function.



Animals need to be protected from flea and tick bites, and flying insects must be kept away  with effective, long-lasting products. Vaccines also exist against some vector-borne diseases: talk to your vet.


*Pibot, P. Maladies vectorielles chez le chien et le chat: leishmaniose, babesiose et les outres... L'Essentiel no320, 20 fevrier 2014

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