Acute Communicable
Disease Control

Contact Information
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Acute Communicable Disease Control
313 N. Figueroa Street, #212
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-7941
Fax: (213) 482-4856

Call 211 For Information 24/7

Have questions about things like where to go for vaccinations or other health care services?

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Acute Communicable Disease Control
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 Rickettsia typhi bacteria. 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.

News and Updates:
  • Letter to Physicians: Vector-borne Disease Risk for Los Angeles County Residents, August 2023
  • Report: Fleaborne Typhus–Associated Deaths — Los Angeles County, California, 2022
  • LAC DPH Health Advisory: Increases of Flea-Borne Typhus (11-16-22)
  • LAC DPH Health Alert: Outbreaks of Flea-Borne Typhus (12-2-21)
  • Letter: Letter to Mayors and City Managers--Guidance on actions for cities to help prevent endemic flea-borne typhus infections (3-22-19)
  • Press Release: Update on Flea-Borne Typhus in Los Angeles County (2-7-19)
  • 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 Data:

Typhus Frequently Asked Questions 
 English / Spanish
Typhus Tips for Prevention image of flea borne typhus
English / Spanish

Occupational Health FAQs 
 English / Spanish

Flea-Borne Typhus Flyer 
 English / Spanish

Flea-borne typhus and other rickettsial infections are reportable in California. Reporting of cases guides the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to target surveillance activities and health education. A Confidential Morbidity Report (CMR) can be used to file a report. The report is available as an online fillable PDF. The CMR may be faxed to the DPH Morbidity Unit at (888) 397-3778 or (213) 482-5508. You may also report cases by telephone during normal business hours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to (888) 397-3993. For cases among residents of the cities of Long Beach or Pasadena, please contact their local health departments.

Testing: Typhus Testing Information for Health Professionals at the LAC DPH Laboratory

Special Studies Report (2015): Multi-Agency Response to a Flea-Borne Typhus Outbreak Associated with a Mobile Home Community

Additional Resources


Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.
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