PASADENA (CBSLA) – The city of Pasadena Friday announced it is facing a flea-borne typhus epidemic, one day after a similar issue was reported in downtown Los Angeles.

flea flex Flea Borne Typhus Epidemic Hits Pasadena

The Oriental rat flea, which can carry typhus. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

There have been 20 confirmed cases of typhus fever among Pasadena residents so far this year, the Pasadena Public Health Department said.

Pasadena averages only between one and five cases annually.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported that it was investigating an outbreak of flea-borne typhus in the downtown L.A. area. The exact number of cases were not disclosed.

Typhus-infected fleas can be carried by feral cats, rats and possums. While animals cannot get sick from typhus, people can. Symptoms of typhus include high fever, chills, headaches and rash.

Typhus is not contagious between people. It can be treated with antibiotics.

To prevent typhus, people are advised to:

  • Use flea control medication on your pets.
  • Avoid being near wild or stray animals.
  • Never feed or touch wild animals.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside.
  • Store your trash in cans with secure lids to avoid attracting wild animals.
  • Get rid of places where rats and stray animals sleep, hide, or find food, like crawl spaces, attics, or under decks.

For more information on typhus and how you can prevent it, click here.

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