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Eek! Cases Of Typhus On The Rise In County

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Cases of typhus have been on the rise in Los Angeles County over the past five or six years.So far, 15 cases of the flea-borne disease have been confirmed in the county and health officials are investigating 17 others, according to the Burbank Leader. Last year there were 38 confirmed cases in the county. Part of it could be the fact that doctors are being trained to look out for and diagnose the disease, but health officials don't have any other suggestions that might explain the uptick.

"We don't really know exactly why this is happening," Jonathan Fielding, the county's director of public health, told the Leader.

There seems to be a cluster of cases in one Burbank neighborhood. Resident Mike Alley said he's one of four people on Screenland Drive to come down with the disease that includes a fever, headaches, a rash that shows up on the infected person's chest, sides and back, muscle aches and chills about 6 to 14 days after being infected. Two cases have been confirmed in the San Fernando Valley as well. Public health officials have visited his neighborhood to hand out information about the particular strain: endemic typhus.

The disease is transmitted to humans through fleas that pick up the disease from rats, cats and possums. The disease can be deadly if not treated: actually, Anne Frank and her older sister Margot died of typhus while they were in a concentration camp.