Flea-borne TYPHUS in LA County spreads to Long Beach as 91 people are struck down amid fears feral cats and rats are carrying the disease

Thursday, October 11, 2018
By Paul Martin

Typhus is spread when people come into contact with faeces from infected fleas
Most sufferers endure mild symptoms like headache, fever and rash
But in severe cases it can cause life-threatening hepatitis and internal bleeding
Experts want co-operation between health authorities and animal control

11 October 2018

A flea-borne typhus outbreak in the Los Angeles area has also rocked Long Beach – the third city to be struck down in the region.

Officials have this year recorded 12 cases of the bug in the city, home to 470,000 people and around 20 miles (32km) south of downtown LA.

A further 20 cases have been recorded in Pasadena since the start of 2018 – and 59 in the whole of LA County in total.

Pasadena and Long Beach are both technically in LA County, however they have their own health departments which record their own figures.

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.

This year’s flea-borne typhus outbreak in LA County is unusually severe. Just 67 cases were recorded in the whole of 2017. And Pasadena and Long Beach have an average of five or six per year.

Officials have not managed to explain why typhus is suddenly spreading in the area as nine cases have been recorded in downtown LA in the past two months. They are investigating the issue.

Symptoms of typhus in humans include fever, chills, headaches, rashes and muscle ache.

In rare cases, the infection can cause liver failure or be fatal – an estimated two to four per cent of untreated patients die.

Los Angeles’s county supervisor, Kathryn Barger, has called for more co-operation among health officials, animal control and trash collection across the affected areas, CBS LA reported.

Dr Muntu Davis, the county’s health officer, admitted typhus ‘normally occurs’ throughout the LA region.

However, in a statement issued last week he added: ‘We are observing several cases in the downtown Los Angeles area.’

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