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City Employee Diagnosed With Typhus Last Year Still Not Well Enough To Return To Work

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA)  -- A city employee diagnosed with typhus last year is still unable to return to work.

CBS2/KCAL9's Jake Reiner spoke to deputy city attorney Liz Greenwood Thursday evening.

"The people that live and do business in the city of Los Angeles expect the city of Los Angeles to not casually allow them to catch a medieval disease as they walk into City Hall," Greenwood says.

She's paid to defend the city from her office -- but it was her office that made her violently ill.

"I was ultimately diagnosed with typhus," Greenwood says.

The city blamed the many homeless encampments, rats, fleas and mounting garbage which surround City Hall.

But a typhus outbreak was a whole other story.

"It's a crisis that puts the general public at risk and the city attorney's response to me was "well, golly, how do we know you're really sick?'" Greenwood says. "Made me feel horrible."

CBS2/KCAL9 first sat down with Greenwood in February. Since then, she filed a complaint with Cal OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and OSHA came through with a couple of citations.

"I feel a relief that a public agency is going to force them to deal with it since an employee who said I got sick here has been treated the way I've been treated," Greenwood says.

Cal OSHA's investigation is now done. It found "employees were exposed to unsanitary conditions from trash and bodily fluids at exteriors, passageways" and alleging the city didn't provide proper cleaning services.

The city attorney's office was also cited -- and fined.

A spokesperson sent a statement saying they are complying with state regulations.

"We are appealing OSHA's tentative citation of our office because the citation addresses conditions on the exterior grounds of City Hall East, our office clearly has no role in maintaining the building's exterior grounds."

While Greenwood says the citations are a good start, it simply isn't enough.

"Had they fumigated the floor-- I'm not sure I would have gone to the media. They have been steadfastly refusing to do anything about it because they have declared themselves blameless," Greenwood says.

She says she is still recovering from the disease and doctors told her she will continue to test positive for it for another 6-12 months.

The Department of General Services declined to comment for this story citing pending litigation.

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