Fleas feed off the blood of a host, usually a dog, cat, rat or human. They will usually live as parasites on warm-blooded vertebrates. However, in the absence of a host, they often live in fabric, with carpets being perfect for larvae to develop. In the UK, fleas (although feeding on blood) are, in general, not responsible for the spread of disease, although in the past were thought to be responsible for the transference of the bubonic plague from rats to humans. The effects of a flea bite include an intense itching sensation and sometimes allergic reactions. Flea bites can remain itchy and inflamed for weeks causing severe discomfort.
Although fleas are a common problem in UK homes where pets are present, they can occur even if you do not have pets. Fleas can be carried by non-domestic animals such as rats, mice, rabbits, livestock and foxes.