In a follow-up to the report of an outbreak of flea-borne typhus in downtown Los Angeles, The Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) is reporting epidemic levels of typhus fever this year.
In 2018, 20 Pasadena residents have been confirmed to have typhus fever, well above the expected one to five cases per year.
“Typhus fever is a disease that can cause serious complications requiring lengthy hospitalization, and rarely, death,” said Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena Health Officer. “All residents should to take steps to prevent fleas in and around the home.”
Flea-borne typhus, also known as murine or endemic typhus, is a disease carried by fleas infected with bacteria (Rickettsia typhi orRickettsia felis). Flea-borne typhus is found regularly in Los Angeles County, especially Pasadena, with most cases occurring in the summer and fall months.
Locally, the primary animals known to carry infected fleas include feral cats and opossums. People with significant exposure to these animals are at risk of acquiring flea-borne typhus. Pet dogs and cats that are allowed outside are more likely to come in contact with infected fleas and could spread the disease to humans. Although pets and animals do not get sick from typhus, the disease can cause high fever, chills, headache and rash in people. Typhus can be treated with antibiotics.
There are simple precautions to prevent the spread of typhus fever disease:
- Maintain the yard free of debris and trim overgrown vegetation to prevent harborage of wild animals like feral cats and opossums
- Do not leave pet food outdoors
- Do not provide food or water for wild animals
- Keep garbage containers tightly covered
- Seal all openings and crawl spaces under the home
- Routinely treat pet dogs and cats with flea control medication
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