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There have been an increase in plague cases in the western United States that have been tied to infected fleas. Dogs and cats have flea repellents available on the market, but I've never seen flea repellents for humans.

Are DEET-based insect repellents effective against fleas?

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Yes...though we're not sure why?!

DEET will prevent pretty much all bugs from biting you. No one's really sure the mechanism of how or why this is the case though. DEET was actually developed by accident, the US government was working with new chemicals for use in warfare when they noticed that DEET repelled mosquitoes. They quickly changed it's status from a nerve agent to a insect repellent and shipped it off...enjoy!

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    The howstuffworks article was already out of date when it was written. DEET's mechanism is known: Zainulabeuddin Syed and Walter S. Leal, "Mosquitoes smell and avoid the insect repellent DEET," pnas.org/content/early/2008/08/19/0805312105 – Ben Crowell Sep 17 '15 at 14:43
  • Oh, I didn't know that @BenCrowell. Good one – user2766 Sep 17 '15 at 14:44
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    @BenCrowell Oddly enough, page 2 in the howstuffworks article says: However, a more recent study suggests that mosquitoes can actually smell DEET (same authors). It's probably just lousy editing. – Roflo Sep 17 '15 at 14:49

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