Downtown Los Angeles is experiencing an outbreak of flea-borne typhus, the county Department of Public Health announced Thursday.
“Although typhus normally occurs throughout L.A. County, we are observing several cases in the downtown Los Angeles area,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis said. “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.”
Flea-borne typhus is a disease that infected fleas can spread to humans. It can cause high fever, chills, headache and rashes in people and can be treated with antibiotics.
The disease can spread in areas where there is an accumulation of trash that attracts wild animals like feral cats, rats and opossums. It is not transmitted person-to-person, according to the Department of Public Health.
To help prevent typhus, the department recommended that residents:
— practice safe flea control;
— use flea control products on pets;
— wear pants tucked into socks or boots when outside, and spray insect repellent with DEET on socks and pant cuffs;
— avoid being near wild or stray animals;
— never feed or touch wild animals, especially opossums, rats and stray or feral cats;
— store trash in cans with secure lids to avoid attracting animals;
— clean places where rats and stray animals sleep, hide or find food, such as crawl spaces, attics or under decks; and
— wear gloves and a mask when cleaning such areas, and wash hands when finished.