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Home / News / Health / Typhus fever infections increase in Pasadena

Typhus fever infections increase in Pasadena

by Staff
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The Pasadena Public Health Department has received an elevated number of reported typhus fever infections in the city this year and advised residents on ways to prevent the spread, officials announced Thursday.

Humans get typhus from infected fleas, resulting in possible high fever, chills, headache and rash.

Usually between one and five cases are reported in Pasadena annually, but so far this year, eight Pasadena residents were diagnosed with typhus. All who had a bout with the illness have received treatment and recovered.

“Winter and early spring are generally lower risk months for typhus, with most cases being reported in the summer and fall,” Mattew Feaster, who manages the health department’s Epidemeology & Disease Control division, told the Pasadena Independent.

In Pasadena, infected fleas are primarily carried by feral cats and opossums, officials said. People who regularly interact with these animals are at risk, and pet dogs and cats that are allowed outside may pick up infected fleas and expose their human owners to insects.

While typhus is treatable with antibiotics that offer a good recovery rate, three typhus-related were reported last year in Los Angeles County, according to Pasadena officials. Pets and animals do not become ill from typhus.

City officials advised these ways to prevent typhus from spreading:

  • Reduce yard debris and trim overgrown plants and trees to discourage the presence of wild animals such as feral cats and opossums;
  • Do not leave pet food outdoors;
  • Do not provide food or water for wild animals;
  • Keep garbage containers closed tightly;
  • Seal all openings and crawl spaces under residences; and
  • Regularly treat pets with flea control medication

Doctors diagnose typhus according to clinical symptoms and a blood test, officials said. The city requires local health providers to report any Pasadena residents with a suspected or confirmed typhus diagnosis within one working day to the Public Health Department at 626-744-6089 Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., or 626-744-6043 after hours.

The total annual number of cases by year from 2016 to 2024 were: 14 in 2016, eight in 2017, 20 in 2018, eight in 2019, three in 2020, eight in 2021, six in 2022 and five in 2023, according to Public Health Department data.

More information on typhus prevention is available online from these government agencies:

Updated June 13, 2024, 1:16 p.m.

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