Last Wednesday I wrote about the massive pile of rat-infested garbage in downtown Los Angeles which had the potential to become a breeding ground for disease. As NBC 4 reported, the city had been called multiple times but seemed to be in no hurry to clean up the mess despite the fact that there was a typhus outbreak (connected to fleas living on rats) in this same area last year.
Maybe that will finally change now that this has happened. Yesterday the LAPD released a statement saying an employee had contracted typhoid. A second employee is displaying symptoms consistent with typhus. The two diseases sound similar but are each caused by a distinct type of bacteria spread in different ways.
Typhus is spread by fleas or body lice that live on rats or other animals. Typhoid is caused by a different bacteria and can be spread from person to person usually as a result of food or water contaminated with feces. From ABC News:
The person who contracted typhoid is apparently a cop. Police aren’t saying whether the infected officer patrols Skid Row but, as I said at the top, the city has known about the typhus problem in the same area since last year. Typhoid is a new wrinkle but it’s the same underlying problem: Homelessness. The garbage collects because of thousands of homeless people living on the street. That leads to an explosion of rats and the diseases they carry as well as feces on the streets and sidewalks.