PRESS RELEASE

City of Long Beach 
Public Information Office
333 W. Ocean Blvd, 
Long Beach, CA 90802

10/11/2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEPress Release # CM:101118A
Subject:
Long Beach Implements Dynamic Approach to Control the Spread of Flea-Borne Typhus
Contact:
Jennifer A. Gonzalez
Outreach & Risk Communication Specialist/PIO
Department of Health & Human Services
562.570.4290
Jennifer.Gonzalez@longbeach.gov




The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) has implemented a dynamic approach to control the spread of flea-borne typhus in Long Beach including providing education to residents, health care providers, and veterinarians who all play an important part in stopping the spread of the disease. This year, Los Angeles County has seen a rise in typhus fever. The Pasadena Public Health Department has reported 20 cases, whereas the City of Los Angeles has confirmed 59 cases. Cases of flea-borne typhus in Long Beach are currently double that of past years, with 12 cases reported so far and several others under investigation.

“Flea-borne typhus is an important issue to our City, and we are working hard to combat it,” said Mayor Robert Garcia, “Educating our residents is an important step towards controlling the spread of this disease.”

A public health advisory to medical providers was sent out in September, notifying them of the increase in cases and reminding them to consider flea-borne typhus if patients present with corresponding symptoms.  Also, a notice was sent to all veterinarians in Long Beach to remind them of the dangers of flea-borne typhus and to ensure proper flea control in their patients. In Long Beach, each typhus case requires the patient is interviewed by an epidemiologist to determine exposures and conduct education and then referred to the Vector Control Program, who visits the homes of individual cases and their surrounding neighborhood to provide recommendations and education on how to avoid fleas in the home.

Flea-borne typhus, also known as murine typhus, was first introduced to Long Beach in 2006 and is now endemic to Long Beach, which means a certain number of cases are expected each year. This year’s increase in cases is not specific to one geographical location in Long Beach, as cases have been found all over the city.

Flea-borne typhus is caused by a bacteria (Rickettsia typhi and R. felis) which enters the skin through scratching following a bite from an infected flea.Infected fleas can be carried by rats, domestic or feral cats, dogs, raccoons, and opossums.  Most infected patients do not recall a flea bite, but often have contact with animals such as pet dogs or cats that carry these fleas in or near their home. Pets and animals do not become sick from typhus, however, in humans, it can cause high fever, chills, headache, and rash.

“While typhus can be treated with antibiotics, early detection is important to avoid complications,” says City Health Officer, Dr. Anissa Davis. “The best way to avoid becoming infected with flea-borne typhus is to practice flea control in and around the home.”

Residents are encouraged to protect themselves and their families from flea-borne typhus and prevent the spread of typhus by doing the following:

  • Practice safe flea control by treating pet dogs and cats regularly.
  • Do not leave pet food outdoors.
  • Avoid debris and overgrown vegetation that may harbor wild animals.
  • Do not provide food or water for wild animals.
  • Store trash in cans with secure lids.
  • Apply an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent labeled for use against fleas if there is a risk of exposure during activities such as working outdoors.

The Health Department continues to conduct heightened surveillance and response activities around flea-borne typhus. For more information regarding flea-borne typhus, visit www.longbeach.gov/Typhus.

About the City of Long Beach

Home to approximately 480,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 171 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.

For more information about the City of Long Beach, visit http://longbeach.gov/. Follow us on social to keep up with the latest news: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

About Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services

The mission of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is to improve quality of life by promoting a safe and healthy community in which to live, work and play. Long Beach Health is one of only three city-run health departments in California, which allows for better engagement with residents, neighborhoods, businesses and community partners, and fosters a greater understanding of the City's strengths. For more information, visit us at www.longbeach.gov/health, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.