The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) encourages residents to take steps to protect themselves and their families from flea-borne typhus. Cases of flea-borne typhus in Long Beach in 2018 are already double that of past years, with 12 cases reported so far and several others under investigation. The Health Department is providing education to residents, health care providers, and veterinarians, who all play an important part in stopping the spread of the disease in Long Beach.
Typhus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Flea-borne typhus (also called murine typhus) is caused by the bacteria (Rickettsia typhi) and is transmitted by infected fleas, which enter the skin through scratching following a bite or an any cuts or scrapes. Infected fleas can be carried by rats, domestic or feral cats, dogs, raccoons and opossums.
Typhus can affect people of all ages. Most infected patients do not recall a fleabite, but often have contact with animals such as pet dogs or cats that carry these fleas in or near their home. Pets and other animals do not become sick from typhus.
Symptoms begin within 2 weeks after contact with infected fleas. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle pain
See your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms of typhus after coming into contact with fleas. Your provider can do a blood test to look for typhus.
Flea-borne typhus can be treated with antibiotics. The treatment is most effective when given soon after symptoms begin.
Make sure your cats and dogs are free of fleas. Additional steps include:
- 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, including feral cats
- Store trash in cans with secure lids
- Apply an EPA-registered insect repellent labeled for use against fleas when outdoors
California Department of Public Health:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
For additional information call the Epidemiology Program at (562) 570-4302.