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Typhus outbreak in California causes public health officials to sound the alarm


October 10, 2018

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The number of reported cases of typhus, a bacterial disease spread by lice or fleas, has reached outbreak levels in Los Angeles County, California.

According to CNN, just the city of Pasadena alone has 20 reported cases this year, up from the one to five it usually experiences.

"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.

There are several different strains of typhus, but the one affecting people in Los Angeles County is called murine typhus, or flea-borne typhus. The bacteria are transmitted from flea bites and fecal matter produced by the pest.

According to CBS News, while the fleas can come from cats, rats and possums, pets and animals do not get sick from typhus.

As of Monday, CNN reported that there have been 57 total confirmed typhus cases in the county. Symptoms can start within two weeks of contact with the infected flea and can include high fever, chills, headache, body aches and rash.

In a statement from the Pasadena Public Health Department, residents of the city were given tips on how to avoid contracting the disease. They urged citizens to:

  • Keep debris out of your yard, trim any unruly vegetation to keep wild animals away.

  • Don't leave your pets outside.

  • Don't give wild animals food or water.

  • Tightly cover all of your garbage containers.

  • Make sure to seal all the openings and crawl spaces under and inside of your home.

  • 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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