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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

California Dept of Pubic Health Lists Typhus Cases and Suspected Cases

Recently the Venice Update ran a story about the number of typhus cases Los Angeles County recorded. California Department of Public Health Lists typhus cases by County and they included even suspected cases so they will differ from the LA County Public Health numbers.

Below are some of the questions people have asked about the disease. These questions and answers are verbatim from the California Department of Public Health website.

What is flea-borne typhus?

Flea-borne typhus is a bacterial disease caused by Rickettsia typhi and possibly Rickettsia felis. Human cases of flea-borne typhus are reported worldwide, but mainly in tropical and coastal areas. In the United States, most cases occur in Texas, California, and Hawaii, with an average of about 300 cases every year. Flea-borne typhus is considered endemic (always present) in areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties, but cases are also sometimes reported from other parts of California.

How do you get flea-borne typhus?

A person can get typhus by coming in contact with infected fleas. The bacteria that causes typhus can be found in the feces of some fleas, and this bacteria can contaminate the skin surface when the flea bites. If the person scratches the flea bite area, some of the bacteria in the flea feces can enter the person’s blood stream.

What animals can carry the bacteria that causes typhus?

In the United States, rats, opossums, and other small mammals can carry the bacteria that causes typhus. Rat fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis) and cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are most commonly associated with disease transmission. Fleas may become infected when they bite these animals and can then spread the bacteria to humans, pet dogs, and cats.

What are the symptoms of flea-borne typhus?

Although most illnesses are mild and undetected, many people infected with flea-borne typhus may have fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches 6 – 14 days after the flea bite. Some people may also get a rash that may begin on the chest and spread to the sides and back. Most of the reported cases in California have required hospital care.

How is flea-borne typhus diagnosed?

Healthcare providers can diagnose flea-borne typhus by evaluating clinical symptoms and testing a patient’s blood.

How is flea-borne typhus treated?

Flea-borne typhus is treated with antibiotics. Most people recover in a few days. Death from typhus is rare (2 – 4% without treatment, world-wide).

How can you prevent getting flea-borne typhus?

The key to preventing flea-borne typhus is to avoid direct contact with fleas. Use flea control products on pet dogs or cats, and keep cats indoors. Prevent rats, opossums, feral cats, and other wild animals from visiting or living around your home:

Do not leave pet food outside
Keep garbage containers tightly covered
Trim and remove plants around buildings

Comments (5)

  1. Venice Resident

    Venice owes all of of this too Will Hawkins. I just want to know how we can prevent Will Hawkins from giving anymore help.

    • Will Hawkins

      Not sure why you would say I am responsible for any of this when all I’ve done is help people off the street through family reunification and keep people from becoming homeless through a rent relief program. Both programs have resulted in a reduction of homelessness through private donations.


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