Emerging Trends in Public Health
Sharing Session - 30 Minutes
Flea-borne typhus (FBT) is endemic in Los Angeles County (LAC) with cases detected each year. Between July and September of 2018, Department of Public Health (DPH) identified 17 confirmed cases from two outbreaks of endemic FBT in downtown Los Angeles and in Willowbrook. In downtown Los Angeles, seven cases reported as homeless or living in interim housing facilities. FBT is transmitted through contact with flea feces that are discharged when an infected flea bites. Reservoir animals are predominantly rats, feral cats, and opossums in LAC. Primary prevention measures include avoiding contact with infected fleas, rodents, feral cats, and opossums, keeping fleas off pets, and reducing interactions with wild animals around places of residence.
It was essential to immediately engage with cross-sector community partners to address concerns for the FBT outbreak including:
• identifying health care providers for medical treatment;
• collaborating with public and private agencies for prevention with pets;
• collaborating with public and private agencies for environmental clean-up; and
• developing a community outreach campaign to educate at-risk populations and the general public.
Through a comprehensive community outreach campaign, a total of 4,108 priority venues were visited, including social services agencies, businesses, community-based organizations, and public agencies. DPH staff distributed 34,904 educational materials and over 7,500 pocket cards to priority and general populations across LAC to increase awareness of the risk of FBT infection and provide education on flea prevention and control.