Rotting trash piles in downtown Los Angeles, between the Fashion and Produce districts, are attracting rats and could create a new epidemic of flea-borne typhus cases.
The rats can carry typhus-infected fleas, which can spread the disease to humans through bacteria rubbed into the eyes or cuts and scrapes on the skin.
KNBC told Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office about the piles of garbage in October. Garcetti promised to make sure trash doesn’t pile up, but conditions worsened over the next seven months.
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, of UCLA, said rats can spread dangerous strains of salmonella and bubonic plague: “Trash and food waste attracts rats. It does pose a public health risk.”