Typhus Strikes the Homeless
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In America, half a million people live on the streets or camp out in shelters. This number is the first increase we�ve had in seven years. The homeless face many challenges including poor health and one in particular is typhus. In Pasadena and Long Beach California, there�s now an outbreak of this bacterial disease.
Murine Typhus is also called endemic typhus because it�s in the community year round. Yet normally few people actually contract it. The bacterium, Rickettsia typhi is responsible and spreads through infected fleas that live mainly on rats. The fleas also feed on other mammals such as opossums, raccoons and domesticated animals such as cats. Infected fleas defecate when they bite their victims, allowing the bacteria, which are in the feces, to enter the host through the bite wound or from scratching the wound. This is also how people can become infected. The feces can also enter through the respiratory tract and the front of the eye.
Pasadena has had twenty cases of typhus as of October twenty-eighteen; that�s four times the usual annual cases. Long Beach has double its expected cases while the rest of Los Angeles County had reported a total of seventy-two.
Some blame the homeless population which has risen nearly fifty percent since two thousand twelve. They live in deplorable conditions.
In Pasadena, an affluent area, the typhus cases may be due to pets coming into contact with wild animals living in nearby canyons. The city has asked people to not leave out food and water for wild animals and to keep trash covered. For both cities, they key is to develop a response, even if the problem is as tough as homelessness.
For more information…
Typhus reaches 'epidemic levels' in parts of Los Angeles area
A typhus outbreak, spread by fleas, has been reported in the downtown area and in neighboring Pasadena...
CDC Murine Typhus Page
Murine typhus, also called endemic typhus or flea-borne typhus, is a disease caused by a bacteria called Rickettsia typhi. Murine typhus is spread to people through contact with infected fleas. People get sick with murine typhus when infected flea feces are rubbed into cuts or scrapes in the skin. In most areas of the world, rats are the main animal host for fleas infected with murine typhus...
Murine Typhus: An Unrecognized Suburban Vectorborne Disease
Murine typhus, an acute febrile illness caused by Rickettsia typhi, is distributed worldwide. Mainly transmitted by the fleas of rodents, it is associated with cities and ports where urban rats (Rattus rattus and Rattus norvegicus) are abundant. In the United States, cases are concentrated in suburban areas of Texas and California. Contrary to the classic rat-flea-rat cycle, the most important reservoirs of infection in these areas are opossums and cats...