Typhus alert issued for city of Long Beach


Murine typhus, also known as flea-borne typhus, is spread from fleas living on rodents, possums, raccoons and cats. The disease is transmitted by bites from infected fleas. The disease is not spread from person to person.

Symptoms include high fever, body aches, severe headaches and a rash. People may become sick enough to be hospitalized, but the disease is rarely fatal.

Public health officials will continue to monitor and test for evidence of flea-borne typhus in areas throughout Long Beach.

Information can be found on the city health department's website at www.longbeach.gov/health. Area veterinarians will receive a letter requesting they educate pet owners on the importance of flea control in preventing flea-borne typhus. Long Beach has also issued letters to area health care providers providing guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of this disease.

The health department urges residents to protect themselves, their families, and their neighbors from flea-borne typhus by following a few simple guidelines:

1. Consult your veterinarian regarding safe flea control medications for your pets.

2. Keep your home and yard in good repair by removing overgrown vegetation and debris where rodents, possums, and feral (wild) cats may hide. Keep screens on crawl space covers and vents in good repair.

3. Avoid contact with animals that carry fleas. Do not attempt to capture and relocate these animals to other areas.

4. Eliminate all food and water sources around your home, including open trash cans, fallen fruit around the yard, pet food, and bird feeders.

5. When cleaning nesting areas of rats and possums, spray area with disinfectant, and wear protective clothing and equipment (i.e., mask, goggles, gloves).

6. When treating your yard or animal harborage areas with insecticides, only use products labeled for flea control and follow all directions carefully.

7. Contact the City's Animal Care Services by email at animalcare@longbeach.gov, if you have questions about managing possums and stray or feral cats on your property. More information on urban wildlife is available online at: http://www.longbeach.gov/acs/urban_wildlife/default.asp.

8. Report dead possums or cats to Animal Care Services for removal by calling (562) 570-PETS (7387).

For more information about flea-borne typhus, please contact the Health Department's Epidemiology Program at (562) 570-4302. Information is also available online at www.longbeach.gov/health.

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