Ctenocephalides spp

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Ctenocephalides canis.jpg

Ctenocephalides spp are the most common and ubiquitous hematophagous parasitic flea worldwide.

As well as causing skin disease, and annoyance to dogs, they are vectors for a large number of diseases of both canine and zoonotic concern.

Species which are pathogenic in dogs include:

  • Ctenocephalides canis
  • Ctenocephalides felis felis[1]
  • Ctenocephalides felis orientis [2]
  • Ctenocephalides felis strongylus [3]
  • Ctenocephalides damarensis[4]

Ctenocephalides spp feed on skin debris, and cause intense itching in some dogs.

The head of Ctenocephalides spp is rounded on its upper and anterior surface. Ctenocephalide canis, the dog flea, has a sharp curve here; Ctenocephalides felis felis, the cat flea, has a shallow curve. Ctenocephalides canis usually has three or four setae on the metepisternum; the others species usually have only one or two[5].

Clinical signs include pruritus, alopecia, lichenification (blackening) and dermal corrugations in chronic cases.

As well as being skin parasites, they transmit proteobacteria such as Bartonella spp, haemoplasmas such as Babesia spp, Rickettsia spp and tapeworms such as Dipylidium spp.

Treatment is usually effective with a range of insecticidal drugs.

Anthelmintic treatment with praziquantel is recommended as most dogs with Ctenocephalides spp have concurrent cestode infections.


  1. Tancredi MG et al (2009) Comparative efficacy of two topical formulations containing 10% fipronil on the control of Ctenocephalides felis felis on cats. Rev Bras Parasitol Vet 18(4):74-77
  2. Suntsov VV et al (1992) Notes on fleas (Siphonaptera) in plague foci on the Tay Nguyen plateau (Vietnam). Parazitologiia 26(6):516-520
  3. Kaal JF et al (2006) Epidemiology of flea infestation of ruminants in Libya. Vet Parasitol 141(3-4):313-318
  4. Ménier K & Beaucournu JC (1998) Taxonomic study of the genus Ctenocephalides Stiles & Collins, 1930 (Insecta: Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) by using aedeagus characters. J Med Entomol 35(5)':883-890
  5. University of Sao Paulo