WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Los Angeles area has been struck by flea-borne typhus outbreak, according to the local Department of Public Health (DPH).
- Officials are pointing to the shocking scourge of increasing population of homeless people in the city as the possible cause of the outbreak.
- LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office formed a task force “to keep Angelenos safe, and ensure everyone gets the treatment they need as quickly as possible.”
Los Angeles is suffering from a typhus outbreak and it has reportedly reached “epidemic levels.”
The Los Angeles County Health Department reported twenty cases of the unusual, flea-borne infectious disease over the past couple of months in Pasadena alone. In Long Beach, twelve cases have been reported this year, twice the usual tally. Nine other cases were added from the rest of the county, according to NBC News.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that only about 200 cases of the flea-borne typhus is the average record per year.
The CDC warns that the symptoms of the infectious disease include high fever, headaches, body aches, chills, rashes, stomach aches, and in rare cases, meningitis and death. People can get infected when fleas, which are infected by certain strains of bacteria, bite them or defecate on cuts and scrapes in the skin. The agency added that there is no vaccine for typhus.
Although experts are still investigating the cause of the outbreak, some experts are already blaming the increasing homeless population in the city.
Over the last six years, the number of people living on the streets and in shelters has increased 75 percent to about 55,000.
In an interview with NBC News, Andy Bales, CEO of Union Mission Rescue said: “There are lots of rats on Skid Row and there are lots of dogs that belong to homeless people.”
Bales was infected by flesh-eating bacteria in downtown LA in 2014, leading to the amputation of his leg.
“A dedicated task force [was formed] through our Unified Homelessness Response Center to keep Angelenos safe, and ensure everyone gets the treatment they need as quickly as possible, ” according to LA Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.
The task force will be focusing on “high concentrations of infected fleas and/or infected rats, feral cats and opossums.”
Meanwhile, Pasadena officials don’t think that the homeless should be blamed for the typhus outbreak, but rather point to the warm summer and fall and local “residents’ frequent interactions with animals in the wildlife and canyons of the nearby Angeles National Forest.”
Source: New York Post