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Officials To Round Up Feral Cats, Reduce Flea Population To Stave Off OC Typhus Threat

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SANTA ANA (CBS) — Vector control officials plan to try Tuesday to corral feral cats living on the campuses of two Santa Ana schools in an effort to reduce the flea population and stave off the spread of typhus, a potentially deadly disease.

Santa Ana officials announced last week that someone living near Broadway and Washington Avenue in Santa Ana was hospitalized with typhus last month but has since recovered. City spokesman Jose Gonzalez underscored this morning that the victim had no connection with any local schools.

Orange County Vector Control officials have been passing out literature to residents in the area on avoiding getting the disease, which primarily is transmitted by fleas, Gonzalez said.

“The issue here is the person lives in close proximity to two schools and because there are feral cats on the school grounds,” Gonzalez said.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports officials want to test the population in order to determine how they should proceed in containing any potential spread of the disease.

“What the testing is being done for is to find out if this person in fact brought this to Santa Ana or he got it from living in Santa Ana,” said Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna. “The only way to do that is through collecting these animals and testing the fleas.”

Bertagna said vector control officials will lay traps today at Frances E. Willard Intermediate School in the 1300 block of North Ross Street and El Sol Science and Arts Academy in the 1000 block of North Broadway.

He said the workers would be wearing hazard suits with masks and that residents should not be alarmed.

Vector control officials have set multiple traps in the area and have caught possums, but none of the feral cats known to be in the area, Gonzalez said. If caught, the feral cats will be sedated and euthanized.

City officials advised residents to treat their pets with flea-prevention medication and eliminate places where wild animals can find shelter and food.

Symptoms usually surface a week or two weeks after exposure and can include high fever, headaches, chills, body aches and pains and a rash. Typhus is treated with antibiotics. It can be fatal if left untreated.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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