Echidnophaga spp

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Adult female Echidnophaga gallinacea[1]

Echidnophaga spp are an hematophagous stick-fast flea of dogs found worldwide[2].

Echidnophaga spp infest a wide variety of birds and mammals and are difficult to remove because their heads are embedded in the host's flesh and they cannot be brushed off. The fleas may easily infest dogs and cats that frequently come in contact with barnyard fowl. Dog infestations with sticktight fleas will usually be found around the margin of the outer ear or occasionally between the toe pads.

These fleas are one of the smallest fleas found on dogs. The adults are dark brown in color, wingless, and have mouth-parts that aid in both the piercing of the skin and sucking of the host’s blood. Neither genal nor pronotal combs are present.

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Echidnophaga gallinacea[3]

Clinical signs of parasitism in dogs is usually restricted to localized pruritus, alopecia and dermatitis.

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 have concurrent cestode infections.


  1. Summagallicana
  2. Slapeta J et al (2011) The cat flea (Ctenocephalides f. felis) is the dominant flea on domestic dogs and cats in Australian veterinary practices. Vet Parasitol 180(3-4):383-388
  3. Roucher C et al (2012) A new Rickettsia species found in fleas collected from human dwellings and from domestic cats and dogs in Senegal. Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis 12(5):360-365