LAPD cops stationed near downtown LA's Skid Row now work in fear of becoming the newest victims of the county's growing typhus epidemic, officers tell the NBC4 I-Team.
The LAPD confirms to the NBC4 I-Team there may be "a flea and rodent problem" inside the Central Station near Skid Row, home base for over 350 officers. This past Friday, the LAPD closed down the station to fumigate for fleas that could carry typhus. The station has been fumigated repeatedly since August but officers say the flea problem remains.
"They're in the desk drawers, on the floor, they're in the patrol cars," an LAPD cop, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, told the I-Team. "In one case, the employee looked down at his pants and noticed it was covered with at least fifteen fleas," the cop added.
Another LAPD employee filed a complaint with CAL OSHA over the flea problem, according to documents obtained by the I-Team. Fleas that live on rodents can spread the typhus bacteria to humans, says the LA County Department of Public Health.
Some 109 people have now been infected with typhus in LA County in 2018, a record number of cases. It's a disease associated with unsanitary conditions, that can cause severe headaches, high fever, and rashes.
Cops tell the I-Team they've been getting sick from the multiple fumigations at Central Station, which they say have been done in areas with poor ventilation. The insecticide used, Dinotefuran, comes with a warning to "ensure adequate ventilation."
"Many of us are suffering from respiratory issues, watery eyes, headaches," because of the fumigation, an LAPD cop told the I-Team.
An email to the I-Team from LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein said the department uses a "licensed and bonded firm to do that work.... they informed us that all of the work was done in a safe manner.
The health of our people is paramount and we take every concern regarding working conditions seriously."