Downtown LA is hit by an outbreak of flea-borne TYPHUS amid fears feral cats and rats are spreading the disease

Friday, October 5, 2018
By Paul Martin

Occurs when faeces from an infected flea enter a person’s cut or eyes
Most sufferers endure mild symptoms like headache, fever and rash
In severe cases, it can cause life-threatening hepatitis and internal bleeding

5 October 2018

An outbreak of flea-borne typhus has hit downtown LA, the county department of public health has confirmed.

At least a dozen cases of the disease, which spreads from fleas to humans, have appeared in a residential neighbourhood of the California city.

All of the sufferers live or work in the area, with some being homeless, health officials said.

Flea-borne typhus occurs when faeces from an infected insect come into contact with a person’s cut or gets rubbed into their eyes.

These fleas often live on feral cats and rats who are attracted to areas with trash on the streets.

Most sufferers endure headache, fever and rash, however, in severe cases, typhus can lead to life-threatening hepatitis and internal bleeding.

‘Although typhus normally occurs throughout LA County, we are observing several cases in the downtown Los Angeles area,’ the city’s county health officer Muntu Davis said in a statement.

‘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.’

Due to the infection taking up to two weeks to cause symptoms, the exact number of sufferers is unclear.

Officials are investigating where exactly the cases occurred. NBC reports a dozen people have been struck down.

Typhus usually affects around 200 people across the US every year, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Health officials were alerted to the outbreak when a cluster of nine cases occurred in downtown LA between July and August.

The infection is endemic in parts of LA and Orange County, Southern California.

Fleas carrying the infection can live on cats, rats or opossums, however, the animals themselves do not suffer symptoms.

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