Flea-borne typhus outbreak in Los Angeles may cause officials to rip out carpet in city buildings

Ashley May

Government officials in Los Angeles are considering ripping out carpets in city buildings amid a typhus outbreak that has infected workers.

The disease is typically caused by infected fleas and their feces. It can also be spread by rats, cats and opossums, according to health officials. Downtown Los Angeles has been battling an outbreak since October that was linked to homeless street encampments, officials said.

Los Angeles station KABC reports that the problem has become so severe that officials are now looking at plans from City Council President Herb Wesson to remove all carpets in City Hall and City Hall East, as well as assess live plants and implement a policy that would require employees to keep food off site. 

City attorney Elizabeth Greenwood told local station KCAL9 she contracted typhus in November and said "I thought I was going to die." 

Symptoms of typhus include, fever, chills, rapid breathing, body and muscle aches, rash, vomiting and confusion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some people can remain infected without symptoms and experience a relapse in disease, the CDC reports, known as Brill-Zinsser disease.

While there is no vaccine to prevent typhus, there are antibiotics available to treat the disease. 

Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Flea-borne typhus outbreak in Los Angeles may cause officials to rip out carpet in city buildings