Typhus is breaking out in California and the media is blaming homelessness.
Health officials on Friday reported a typhus outbreak in Los Angeles County and say it has reached “epidemic levels” in the city of Pasadena.
Twenty cases have been reported in Pasadena, mostly in the last two months, health officials told NBC News, noting that a normal year would typically only see five infections. The city of Long Beach, California, has 12 cases so far in 2018 — double the normal annual number, said Emily Holman, the city’s infectious disease response coordinator.
The number of cases in the rest of the county since July is nine, which counts as an “outbreak,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials said in a statement. Pasadena and Long Beach have their own health departments even though they exist within the county.
“The Pasadena Public Health Department is reporting epidemic levels of typhus fever this year,” read a statement from that city on Friday.
The official source of the outbreak is said to be fleas from domestic and wild animals.
“Infection happens when the feces from infected fleas are rubbed into cuts or scrapes in the skin or rubbed into the eyes,” the county health department states on its website.
Some experts, however, say the true culprit is the inhumane conditions the county’s expanding homeless population lives in.