Outbreak of Flea-Borne Typhus in Downtown Los Angeles

Henrietta Strickland
October 6, 2018

Flea-borne typhus, also known as murine or endemic typhus, is a disease carried by fleas infected with bacteria (Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia felis).

Typhus shows up throughout the county every year, with an average of about 60 cases countywide for each of the last five years.

CBSLA reports that the Los Angles County Department of Public Health is investigating "several cases" of the typhus strain and warns that it is a "disease that infected fleas can spread to humans".

All of the people affected have a history of living or working in the downtown area, and some of them were homeless, health officials told LAist.

Fleas with typhus are a danger in "areas where there is an accumulation of trash", as such an accumulation attracts wild cats, opossums, and other animals.

Symptoms typically begin within two weeks of exposure and may include fever, chills, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and rash. Typhus can be treated with antibiotics. While animals cannot get sick from typhus, people can.

Nine cases were reported from July to September, with officials eyeing trash and stray animals as potential catalysts.

"Typhus fever is a disease that can cause serious complications requiring lengthy hospitalization, and rarely, death", said Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena Health Officer.

Officials are still working to determine where exactly the cases in downtown L.A. may have occurred. And we love you for that. We don't have paywalls, but we do have payments (aka bills).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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