Los Angeles has found itself in the middle of a flea-borne typhus epidemic, with 57 reported cases of the bacteria disease having been recorded by health officials.
Pasadena, a city located in the north of L.A. County is home to around 135,000 people and last week reported epidemic levels of typhus fever.
Confirmed cases of the disease – which is spread to humans by infected fleas – normally number about 1-5 per year, according to the Pasadena Health Department. The announcement by the agency came last Friday, one day after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it was doing it’s own investigation of an outbreak of flea-borne typhus among Los Angeles’ downtown homeless population, reported NBC Los Angeles.
Fleas who have been infected with typhus primarily come from feral cats, opossums, and rats who are attracted to areas with trash on the streets. People who have become infected experiencing rashes, headaches, high fever and chills – but more life-threatening hepatitis and internal bleeding can occur if left untreated. Flea-borne typhus occurs when feces from an infected insect comes into contact with a person’s cut or gets rubbed into their eyes. Animals do not react to typhus and do not get sick, they are merely carriers of the disease.
“Typhus fever is a disease that can cause serious complications requiring lengthy hospitalization, and rarely, death,” said Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena Health Officer. “All residents should to take steps to prevent fleas in and around the home.”
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