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Feral Cat Traps Sabotaged As Health Officials Search for Source of Typhus

Outdoor Kitty via Shutterstock
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Someone sabotaged the feral cat traps that were set up yesterday at an Orange County school by health officials who are trying to isolate the source of typhus, a flea-born bacterial infection.

Typhus is an infection that causes flu-like symptoms and is carried by fleas and lice. It is rare to die from Typhus but it can be fatal if left untreated. It has been diagnosed in two Orange County residents so far, including a Santa Ana child who was hospitalized last month and has since recovered. Health officials said that it can be spread by feral cats, so they set traps at Frances E. Willard Intermediate School in the 1300 block of North Ross Street and El Sol Science and Arts Academy in the 1000 block of North Broadway, according to City News Service.

Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said that they are trying to do the right thing but have been inundated with calls from cat lovers who object to the trapping of cats.

"Our people went out and found things thrown at the traps to activate them,'' Bertagna said. "Unfortunately, we have no witnesses. They have cameras at the school, but they didn't catch anything, so we have nothing to follow up on at this time."

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Michael Hearst, the district manager for Orange County Vector Control, said his agency has also received calls from people protesting the traps. Hearst said Vector Control usually treats the trapped animals with flea medicine and then lets them go.

Hearst said that the fleas usually pick up the disease from opossums and feral cats and then carry it to domestic pets, according to the report. City officials have been passing out information to residents and telling them to pay close attention to their pets and to make sure that they are treated with flea-prevention medication.