Flea-borne Typhus is an illness caused by bacteria that may be transmitted by infected fleas found on rats, opossums, and other small animals including domestic dogs and cats. Flea-borne Typhus can cause a mild fever, with rash on the body, headaches or muscle aches. It is treatable with antibiotics, and rarely results in death. Approximately fifty cases are reported each year in California with the majority of cases in residents of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Prevention of flea-borne typhus includes avoiding contact with wild rats and opossums and making sure outdoor pets are on effective flea control.
Human typhus cases are reportable to CDPH under Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations, and are followed by local health jurisdictions to document possible routes and location of exposure. CDPH works closely with local health agencies to promote prevention of flea-borne typhus by encouraging the public to minimize harborage and food sources for urban wildlife around structures and to keep outdoor pets on effective flea control.