Flea-Borne Typhus Outbreak Spreads To Long Beach

Desiree Burns
October 12, 2018

Although typhus cases do normally occur in the area, officials have seen a spike in cases in recent months, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The county total reflects an upward trend over at least the last three years, with 67 cases reported for the full year 2017.

Typhus is endemic to LA County and on average about 60 cases are reported each year.

"Typhus fever is a disease that can cause serious complications requiring lengthy hospitalization, and rarely, death", Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena's health officer, said in an announcement on Friday.

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Flea-borne typhus (also called murine typhus) is caused by the bacteria (Rickettsia typhi) and is transmitted by infected fleas, which enter the skin through scratching following a bite or an any cuts or scrapes. Humans are a dead-end host for flea-borne typhus.

Pet owners are particularly at risk. Feral rats, possums and cats can carry the disease. While animals can pass the disease to humans, typhus is not spread person-to-person. Details have not been revealed about the ill, but officials indicate that some, not all, of the cases have been reported in homeless people. Symptoms can start within two weeks of contact with the infected flea and can include high fever, chills, headache, body aches and rash. In the event of exposure to fleas during outdoor activities, the CDC recommends the use of Environmental Protection Agency-registered insect repellent.

Treat your pet dogs and cats with flea control medication.

According to ABC News, officials are looking into exactly where the cases occurred and how many people are affected.

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