Typhus outbreak spreads from LA to Long Beach, Pasadena

By Ed Adamczyk   |   Oct. 10, 2018 at 1:33 PM
Health officials say dozens of cases of typhus have been recorded this year in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Pasadena. File Photo by Mike Nelson/EPA

Oct. 10 (UPI) -- An outbreak of typhus -- a disease carried by fleas -- has been recorded in Los Angeles County, health officials said.

Nine confirmed cases were seen in downtown Los Angeles between July and September, which health officials say is an unusually large number for a confined area. Twelve cases have turned up this year in Long Beach and 20 in Pasadena.

Officials are looking into at least 59 cases in the area.

Although typhus is not unusual in Southern California, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it's seen an increase in new cases recently. Last year, 67 cases were reported in Los Angeles County, which does not include Long Beach or Pasadena.

Long Beach generally has fewer than five cases per year, and Pasadena has an average of six per year.

Typhus is spread to humans by fleas carrying the bacteria. It can cause high fever, chills, headache and rash, and is treatable with antibiotics.

Infected fleas typically jump to humans from cats, rats and opossums. Experts say symptoms of typhus generally occur six to 14 days after infection.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger called for collaboration among Los Angeles, Long Beach and Pasadena health officials and proposed more outreach to at-risk residents through animal control and trash collection.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommended using flea control products on pets and flea repellent on humans, keeping pets indoors, avoiding wild and stray animals, frequent hand washing and keeping garbage cans closed to avoid attracting animals.

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