Los Angeles

Pasadena Reports Epidemic Levels of Typhus Fever in 2018

Twenty confirmed cases represent a marked increase over past years

What to Know

  • Typhus can cause fever, chills, body aches, nausea and vomiting, cough, and rash
  • In humans, typhus can be treated with antibiotics. Pets do not get sick from typhus
  • The scope of the outbreak is hard to assess because it could take one to two weeks to detect

Twenty Pasadena residents have been confirmed to have typhus fever in 2018, a significant increase over past years, according to the city's health department.

Confirmed cases of the disease, spread to humans by infected fleas, normally number about one to five per year, the agency said Friday. The announcement comes a day after the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said it is investigating an outbreak of flea-borne typhus among downtown Los Angeles' homeless population. 

Fleas infected with typhus primarily come from feral cats, rats and opossums. Infected people can experience high fever, chills, headaches and rash.

Animals do not get sick from typhus.

"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."

Preventing Typhus

  • Practice safe flea control by using control products on your pets.
  • When outside, wear pants tucked into socks or boots. Spray insect repellent with DEET on socks and pant cuffs.
  • Don't touch wild animals, especially opossums, rats, and stray or feral cats.
  • Store your trash in cans with secure lids to avoid attracting animals.
  • Get rid of places where rats and stray animals sleep, hide, or find food, like crawl spaces, attics, or under decks. Protect yourself by wearing gloves and a mask when cleaning these areas. Wash your hands when done.

Click here for more about typhus.

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