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Typhus: What You Need To Know

October 10, 2018 | December 04, 2019

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is investigating an outbreak involving several cases of flea-borne typhus in the Skid Row area of downtown Los Angeles. DPH is working with the City of Los Angeles to implement environmental safety measures to reduce the spread of the disease.

Flea-borne typhus is a disease that infected fleas can spread to humans. Bacteria found in infected fleas, and their feces, cause typhus. Fleas can come from many types of animals including cats, rats, and opossums. Although pets and animals do not get sick from typhus, typhus can cause high fever, chills, headache, and rash in people and can be treated with antibiotics.

Places where there is an accumulation of trash that attract wild animals like feral cats, rats and opossums that may carry an infected flea may increase the risk of exposure. Typhus is not transmitted person-by-person.

To help prevent typhus:

  • Practice safe flea control.
  • Use flea control products on your pets.
  • When outside, wear pants tucked into socks or boots. Spray insect repellent with DEET on socks and pant cuffs.
  • Avoid being near wild or stray animals.
  • Never feed or touch wild animals, especially opossums, rats, stray, or feral cats.
  • Store your trash in cans with secure lids to avoid attracting animals.
  • Get rid of places where rats and stray animals sleep, hide, or find food, like crawl spaces, attics, or under decks. Protect yourself by wearing gloves and a mask when cleaning these areas. Wash your hands when you're finished.

The DPH Veterinary Public Health Program will be working with Downtown Dog Rescue and Inner City Law Center every Wednesday to apply flea preventive medication to pets of homeless people in the Skid Row area.

What: flea-borne typhus educational outreach to people living in Skid Row and application of flea preventive to pets of homeless living in Skid Row

When: Every Wednesday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., starting 10/10/18

Where: 1309 E 7th St, LA 90021 (Inner City Law Center)

Public Health is partnering with the City of Los Angeles and its community partners to continue health data tracking, to interview and treat those affected, to reduce the environmental risk for this disease, and communicate how to stay safe.

For more information on Typhus please see the helpful resources from DPH below:


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