The carpets may be coming out of Los Angeles City hall amid fears of a typhus outbreak that may have already infected one worker.
The problem has become so severe, officials are now looking at plans from City Council President Herb Wesson that proposes to remove all carpets from City Hall and City Hall East and install alternative flooring. The plan also calls for all plants in the building to be assessed to see if they were attracting vermin, and removed if so. A new policy would also be implemented that would require all employees to keep food off-site.
Carpets have already been removed from Wesson's office.
Typhus is a flea-borne illness that develops after fleas bit rats and become infected with a bacteria known as Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia felis. Typhus spreads to humans through flea bites or through the feces of infected fleas when rubbed into a cut or scrapes in the skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says symptoms of typhus include fever and chills, headache, rapid breathing, body and muscle aches, rash, cough, nausea and vomiting and confusion.
A typhus outbreak was declared last year in downtown Los Angeles, which includes Skid Row, where an estimated 2,000 homeless people live. Mayor Eric Garcetti allocated millions of dollars last year to increase clean-ups of streets in the Skid Row area, known as the "typhus zone."
City attorney Elizabeth Greenwood told KCAL9 that she contracted typhus in November saying that it was terrifying. "I thought I was going to die and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.”
Greenwood has not returned to work since she came down with the illness, saying she wants the entire building at City Hall East fumigated for typhus-carrying fleas.
There is no vaccine to prevent typhus, but antibiotics are available to treat people diagnosed with the disease.
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