Report 
  Title  
  FLEAS (SIPHONAPTERA) HARMFUL TO MAN IN ISRAEL
  Key Words  
  Xenopsylla cheopis, Pulex irritans, Ctenocephalides felis, murine typhus, Rattus norvegicus, Rattus rattus
  Author  
  AMOS WILAMOWSKI
  Abstract  
  The oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis, was considered the parasite of the two rat species in Israel, Rattus norvegicus and Rattus rattus, in their area of common distribution along the coastal plain. This flea does not exist on R. rattus which is found in the interior of the country. After R. norvegicus became dominant over all the coastal plain since the 1980s, X. cheopis became a parasite only of this species. The level of infestation of X. cheopis on rats was very high in the beginning of the 1950s and the number of murine typhus cases reached many hundreds per year. The distribution of this disease overlaps the distribution area of Rattus norwegicus and X. cheopis. Control operations against rats and fleas, which were carried out over many years and drastic urban changes, caused a continual decrease in the level of flea infestation of rats, down to extremely low levels. In parallel, there has been a decrease in the number of murine typhus cases to four cases or less per year in the 1990s. This low number supports our assumption that X. cheopis is very rare in Israel today. The urban changes also caused the disappearance of P. irritans from human habitations. The last case of a P. irritans infestation was recorded in the beginning of the 1990s. The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis, is distributed throughout Israel except the desert city of Eilat. It is mainly a parasite on dogs and cats, but it is also found on large farm mammals. The increase in the standard of living, accompanied by a large increase in the number of household pets, is responsible for the very large populations of this flea in urban areas. There are serious difficulties controlling C. felis, particularly when a whole neighborhood is infested.