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Flea-Borne Typhus Outbreak Spreads To Long Beach

LONG BEACH (CBSLA) – The typhus outbreak in Southern California has spread to a third city, and pet owners there have been surprised to hear of the uptick in the flea-borne disease.

At Uptown Dog Park in Long Beach, dog owners were shocked to hear about the outbreak in their area.

"Sounds crazy. I've never heard of it," Isael Torres said.

Long Beach has joined other major cities that have seen an increase of typhus cases this year.

Health officials said there have been nine cases in Downtown Los Angeles, 12 in Long Beach, 20 in Pasadena and 59 in Los Angeles County.

Authorities said flea-borne typhus only makes humans sick, not animals. Feral rats, possums and cats can carry the disease.

"I've seen raccoons, possums, and yeah, cats, and they're all just out and about," said pet owner Gary O'Callaghan.

A flea on one of those stray animals can jump on pets and then be transferred onto humans.

Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, rash, vomiting and muscle pain.

To prevent typhus, health officials recommend:

  • Make sure cats and dogs are free of fleas
  • Don't leave food outdoors
  • Don't feed wild animals
  • Avoid debris and overgrown vegetation that may attract wild animals
  • Store trash in cans with secure lids
  • Use insect repel repellent
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