Following a recent case of typhus fever in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County health officials last week urged residents around Polliwog Park to practice flea control among other precautions to prevent contraction.
Endemic typhus, a flea-borne disease, is contracted when a person comes in contact with fleas infected with certain bacteria. In LA County, feral animals such as rats, opossums and cats all carry the fleas that can transmit the disease. Officials warn that inflected fleas could spread to household pets then to its owners.
Symptoms–including headaches, chills and rashes–manifest seven to 10 days after contact. Typhus is treatable with antibiotic therapy.
Tips from the L.A. County Department of Public Health:
Practice safe flea control: Homes should be kept free of fleas. Don’t allow pets to roam freely where they can come into contact with infected fleas. Oral and topical flea control medications can be effective. Consult your veterinarian for advice. When purchasing pesticides to treat yards and homes, use only materials which state “fleas” on the label, and follow all label directions carefully.
Eliminate all possible harborage: Homes should be kept in good repair to prevent rodents, opossums, and stray or feral cats from entering the structure or nesting in crawl spaces below structures. Yards should be kept clear of heavy undergrowth and accumulated debris to reduce areas where animals may nest or hide.
Eliminate all food sources: Do not encourage animals to visit your yard by directly or indirectly feeding them. Open trash cans, bird feeders, fallen fruit, and pet food attract rodents and other animals. Pick up all fallen fruit and do not leave food out for pets.
Take personal precautions: When cleaning nesting areas, spray the area with disinfectant, and wear protective equipment such as a particle mask or respirator, goggles, and gloves. This practice also reduces exposure to rodent excretions which may cause other diseases.