Typhus Outbreak Hits Major American City

Los Angeles government officials are considering replacing all carpets in city buildings amid a typhus outbreak spreading rapidly among city workers. (USA Today)

The disease is typically caused by infected fleas, which hitch rides on rats, and their feces. It can also be spread by cats and opossums, according to health officials. Downtown Los Angeles has been battling an outbreak since October that was linked to homeless street encampments, officials said.

“We had an employee or two mention they heard something in the ceiling,” City Council President Herb Wesson told the AP as he walked through his office, where he recently had all the rugs ripped out. “Then we had an employee spot what she believed to be paw prints.”

Los Angeles station KABC reports that the problem has become so severe that officials are now looking at plans from Wesson to remove all carpets in City Hall and City Hall East, as well as assess live plants and implement a policy that would require employees to keep food off site.

City attorney Elizabeth Greenwood told local station KCAL9 she contracted typhus in November and said “I thought I was going to die.”

Symptoms of typhus include abdominal and back pain, widespread rashes, extremely high fever, chronic cough, nausea, and vomiting.

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