In a follow-up on the flea-borne typhus situation in Los Angeles County, county health officials say from 2018-to-date, there are a total of 107 cases of flea-borne typhus documented, not including cases reported in Long Beach and Pasadena. The outbreak began in Oct. 2018.

Los Angeles County map/Thadius856
Los Angeles County map/Thadius856

From 2013-2017, the average number of reported cases has doubled to nearly 60 cases per year.

“Flea-borne typhus is regularly found each year throughout Los Angeles County, and cases can cluster over periods of time in areas where environmental factors support wild animals that can harbor infected fleas,” said Muntu Davis, MD, MPH, Los Angeles County Health Officer. “I appreciate how cities have expanded trash clean-up and rodent control activities, and I continue to encourage all cities in Los Angeles County to continue those actions. I recommend that pet owners practice safe flea control as well.”

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Typhus is not transmitted person-to-person. Flea-borne typhus can spread to people from infected fleas and their feces. Typhus infection can be prevented through flea control measures on pets, using insect repellent to avoid flea bites, and clearing areas that can attract wild or stray animals like cats, rats and opossums. Symptoms of typhus include high fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and rash in people. Call your doctor if you have symptoms; typhus can be treated with antibiotics. People with prolonged outdoor exposure in close proximity to wildlife, including individuals experiencing homelessness are at risk of acquiring flea-borne typhus.

The increase in cases highlights the need for everyone to take steps to reduce their risk of infection, health officials note.

To help prevent typhus:

Keep fleas off you and your pets.

  • Use flea control products on your pets.
  • Keep pets indoors.
  • Use EPA-registered insect repellent labeled for use against fleas.

Avoid being near wild or stray animals.

  • Do not leave pet food outdoors. Do not provide food or water for wild animals.
  • Maintain yard free of debris and trim overgrown plants and bushes.
  • Keep trash in containers that are tightly covered to avoid attracting animals.
  • Close up crawl spaces and openings under home where rats and stray animals can sleep, hide, or find food.
  • Address any stray cat, rodent or opossum issues on and near your property.