LA County Typhus Alert

LA Animal Services: What You Should Know About Typhus

The information below is provided by the LA County Department of Public Health.
Please visit LA County Department of Public Health – Vector Typhus for more information.

Flea-Borne (Endemic) Typhus

Typhus refers to a group of infectious diseases that are caused by rickettsial organisms and result in an acute febrile illness. The principle diseases of this group are epidemic (or louse-borne) typhus, flea-borne (or endemic) typhus, and scrub typhus.

Flea-borne typhus (sometimes called murine typhus) is the only one of these diseases naturally occurring in LA County and is caused by two bacteria Rickettsia typhi and R. felis. Flea-borne typhus can spread to humans from bacteria found in infected fleas. Infection happens when the feces from infected fleas are rubbed into cuts or scrapes in the skin or rubbed into the eyes.

Symptoms can start within two weeks after contact with the infected flea and include high fever, headache, chills, and body aches. A rash can appear on the chest, back, arms, or legs. In rare cases, there may be swelling at the lining of the brain (meningitis) and heart valves (endocarditis). Fatalities are uncommon, occurring in less than 1% of cases. The disease is typically mild in young children. Typhus infection is not vaccine preventable, but can be treated with antibiotics.

LAC DPH HEALTH ALERT UPDATE: Outbreaks of Flea-Borne Typhus Los Angeles County (10-12-18)
LAC DPH HEALTH ALERT: Outbreak of Flea-Borne Typhus in Downtown Los Angeles (10-4-18)
PRESS RELEASE: Public Health Reports Several Cases of Flea-Borne Typhus (10-4-18)


  • Typhus Frequently Asked Questions – English / Spanish
  • Typhus Tips for Prevention – English / Spanish
  • Occupational Health FAQs – English / Spanish
  • Typhus Infographic – English / Spanish