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Cases Of Flea-Borne Typhus in L.A. County Jump To 57 ~ Pasadena Is Calling It ‘Epidemic Levels’

Ken Gonzales-Day, “Jim Morphesis,” mural by Kent Twitchell, Hollywood Freeway at Hope St. exit, Downtown Los Angeles, 1984. Photo © 2017 Ken Gonzales-Day.

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles County public health officials are warning residents of an outbreak of typhus while they investigate exactly where in downtown L.A. people are getting infected. There are now 57 cases detected — nine associated with an outbreak in downtown L.A.

“Public Health is gathering additional information to determine the specific locations in downtown L.A. where the cases may have been,” the County Public Health Department told L.A. Taco.

“All of the cases associated with the outbreak have a history of living or working in downtown L.A. Some persons were experiencing homelessness; others were not.” People get sick when the infected flea feces are rubbed into cuts and scrapes in the skin. Animals such as rats, feral cats, and opossums can carry the bacteria and the infected fleas without becoming ill.

Pasadena reported “epidemic levels of typhus” on Friday. The city, which says it usually expects one to five cases of typhus per year, has 20 cases reported so far.

“Although typhus normally occurs throughout L.A. County, we are observing several cases in the downtown Los Angeles area,” said Muntu Davis, an Los Angeles County Health Officer in a press release published on Friday. “We encourage pet owners to practice safe flea control and encourage all cities in the county to ensure maintenance of their trash clean-up and rodent control activities.”

L.A. County Public Health is recommending that people avoid direct contact with rats, possums, and feral cats. Pets, such as dogs and cats, that are allowed to spend time outdoors should be protected from fleas with veterinarian-approved animal flea control products, such as flea collars or spot-ons, to prevent them from coming into contact infected fleas, which they could then bring inside the home.

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