LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Three Los Angeles Police Department officers have been infected with a highly contagious staph infection after what a union official says was an encounter with a homeless person at a police station.
The outbreak started sometime within the last week at the LAPD West Valley station in Reseda when officers arrested a transient and was brought to the station, which has since undergone cleaning of all surfaces to stop the MRSA from spreading.
The three officers who were infected are on medical leave pending treatment and testing. All are expected to make a full recovery.
The LAPD released the following statement Tuesday:
"The health, safety, and well-being of our Los Angeles Police Department officers is critical and we are ensuring the officers exposed to this disease are cared for. First responders throughout the region and especially here in Los Angeles are constantly responding to incidents that put them at risk of potential exposure to various diseases, and that's why the Department takes this incident very seriously. All of the work areas that may have been exposed have been disinfected."
Steve Gordon of the L.A. Police Protective League confirmed to CBSLA that it was a homeless transient who came into contact with officers at the station.
Gordon was blunt when asked about the problems officers face when dealing with the homeless population.
"Our officers are being put in very hazardous conditions, with the addiction to drugs, the homeless encampments, the feces, the needles, everything throughout these encampments," said Gordon. "There's only one thing that these cameras can't catch and that is the smell and the vile conditions in which some of these addicted people live in."
But Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at LAC+USC Medical Center, said it's unfair - and inaccurate - to pin blame on any one source.
"You wouldn't be able to say that it came from one person or another, " he said. "It's everywhere around us."
MRSA is a type of staph bacteria that can be found on the skin of healthy people, but can cause serious bone and flood infections. A MRSA infection can initially look like a spider bite or pimple, but continues to get infected and can cause a fever. The bacteria is resistant to antibiotics, can spread through direct contact and infected surfaces in crowded places like jails, hospitals, schools and gyms, and in close communities like homeless encampments.
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