Fleas

Apparently, I spent much of my adult life sheltered from what must be a daily reality for some. I showed an inexpensive bank-owned house yesterday evening to a curious buyer. Among other issues, it was infested with fleas. Up until the most recent housing cycle, I had never seen fleas swarm one’s ankles when walking into a home with wall to wall carpet. I am unfortunately familiar with that now. It is still disturbing to think that humans live this way, and maybe even unimaginable for most people until you see it with your own eyes. Imagine Redding summer heat and no electricity for so much as a vacuum cleaner.

Yesterday started me thinking about the health implications, so I browsed over to the CDC website.
flea cycle
Ever heard of Typhus? (2 kinds) Tapeworms? Flea-borne Rickettsiae? I was wondering about plague (Yersinia pestis, known in history as black death) but that’s not prominently mentioned. From the site, “flea-borne diseases could reemerge in epidemic form because of changes in vector-host ecology due to environmental and human behavior modification” and “economic factors, as well as changes in human behavior, have resulted in the emergence of new and the reemergence of existing but forgotten infectious diseases during the past 20 years.” Hmm. Anyway, here’s the website if you’re interested:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/eid/vol3no3/azad.htm -and thanks to the CDC for the image seen above.
It’s quite sight to behold, fleas leaping from carpet to your feet and legs with such swarming gusto. Not all bank owned properties have fleas. Its not that bad in the winter, but on a hot day, they have remarkable mobility. It doesn’t even startle me anymore. Maybe it should.
The one that still haunts me is the house in south Redding/north Anderson last year, where it was apparent that the evicted had been doing child day-care. I saw the home pre-eviction, when there were kids there, and then a few days after they had left. Along with fleas were the largest rats I’d ever seen. That one was brutal. My sheltered life left behind.

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