Typhus Warnings Posted Around OC

Orange County authorities are urging the public to take precautions against flea-borne typhus after it was discovered in the region.

Signs have been posted in Santa Ana and Tustin, including around Tustin Legacy Park.

Flea-borne typhus is a bacterial disease caused by Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia felis. Infection occurs when a feeding flea drops feces containing the bacteria. When the area is scratched, the bacteria spreads. 

Animals typically don’t exhibit symptoms, but humans can experience headache, rash, fever, body aches, weakness, light sensitivity or confusion. Some cases require hospitalization, with roughly one-third requiring intensive care.

"The precautions to take care of pets or take care of your family to prevent disease is keeping your pets on year round flea control medicine, as well as reducing harbor or shelter locations for animals, such as possums, raccoons and feral cats," said OC Vector Control District Manager Lora Young.

Neighboring Los Angeles County has experienced a steady rise in flea-borne typhus cases over the past decade. In 2010, there were just 31 cases reported. By 2022, that number had jumped to 171. Three of those cases were fatal.