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Flea-Borne Typhus Outbreak Reaches Epidemic Levels In Parts Of Los Angeles

Health officials in Los Angeles recently reported a typhus outbreak and say it has reached epidemic levels in Pasadena.

There have been twenty cases reported in Pasadena, mostly in the past two months. The city of Long Beach has reported twelve cases in 2018, and nine have been reported in the rest of Los Angeles County since July.

Typhus can cause fever, chills, body aches, nausea and vomiting, cough, and rashes. In rare cases, it can also cause meningitis or death.

The county health department says on their website, “Infection happens when the feces from infected fleas are rubbed into cuts or scrapes in the skin or rubbed into the eyes.”

Officials in Pasadena are blaming the outbreak on a warm summer, and human interaction with animals in neighborhoods that have an interface with wildlife in canyons and the Angeles National Forest.

Meanwhile, officials from the L.A. health department are investigating the source of the outbreak in downtown L.A. by searching for high concentrations of infected fleas and/or infected rats, feral cats and opossums.

One official said, “There are lots of rats on Skid Row, and there are lots of dogs that belong to homeless people.”

Health officials are recommending that you take the following steps to protect yourself:

  • Practice safe flea control.
  • Use flea control products on your pets.
  • When outside, wear pants tucked into socks or boots. Spray insect repellent on socks and pant cuffs.
  • Avoid being near wild or stray animals.
  • Never feed or touch wild animals, especially opossums, rats, stray or feral cats.
  • Store your trash in cans with secure lids to avoid attracting animals.
  • Get rid of places where rats and stray animals sleep, hide, or find food.