Widespread Flea Infestation at a Ventura County School Affected Students, Teachers and Staff, but Could the Insects Hitchhike Into Their Homes via Clothing?

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Israel Alvarez

Owner @ Insight Pest Management

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Flea Infestation at a Ventura County SchoolFlea infestations are among the most annoying insect infestations that a homeowner can experience indoors, and the bloodsucking parasites also pose a health threat to a home’s occupants, including pets. Fleas bite humans as well as animals, mainly dogs and cats. In most cases, homes become infested after the insects establish a parasitic presence on a pet that regularly travels back and forth between indoor and outdoor areas. Fleas can also jump onto shoes or pants before humans unknowingly transport the insects into a home, but most indoor flea infestations do not begin in the manner. Fleas can be acquired in both indoor and outdoor locations, and if a home, lawn, or both become infested with fleas, fully eradicating the insects from the affected area can take weeks. Unfortunately, during the summer of 2018, the Ventura Unified School District struggled for over a month to eradicate a flea infestation within Montalvo School classrooms.

The flea infestation within Montalvo School became clear after students, teachers and staff began to experience bites that were quickly attributed to fleas. Luckily, the flea infestation occurred within the school during the summer season when most classrooms were empty, but this did not comfort the teachers and students that had been attending summer classes within the building. The fleas proliferated rapidly, eventually leading to a situation in which teachers and students were sustaining bites at a near constant rate. These bites left behind clear wounds that caused severe itching and distress. Teachers, students, staff and parents were initially confused as to why the classes were not moved to an unaffected area of the school, but administrators sent a letter to parents claiming that relocating the students would likely cause the infestation to spread. Eventually, pest control professionals found the source of the infestation within a grassy area near the school’s portable classrooms, and the affected teachers and students were relocated to another classroom that was free of fleas. Fleas can hitchhike on people’s clothing, causing infestations to spread within localized areas, but it is rare for them to maintain a presence on clothing for periods long enough that would put the student’s homes at risk of becoming infested. The flea infestation at the school was first reported on July 2nd, and the infestation persisted in the building well into the month of August.

Have you ever been bitten by fleas?

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