Los Angeles: Skid Row Declared a ‘Typhus Zone’ But Politicians Are Slow to Implement Clean Up

Downtown Los Angeles, Youtube
Skid row spans 50 square blocks in downtown Los Angeles, which has become a breeding ground for rats, contributing to Los Angeles County’s typhus outbreak which began this summer.  The disease is spread by fleas, which are carried by rats, feral cats, opossums and pets.  Typhus infections can cause high fever, headache, chills, and in rare or untreated cases, meningitis and death. While it cannot be passed person to person, typhus usually reaches humans by flea bites or infected flea feces.  Investigative reporter, Joel Grover, reported that Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged $300,000 in funding to pick up trash and sanitize affected areas, including parts of Skid Row, but the plan has not been implemented – the city is not even power-washing or sanitizing this extended area where cases of typhus were found.  The city’s efforts are limited by a lawsuit that was filed by homeless people that prevents the removal of people from sidewalks between 9 pm and 6 am and removal of some personal belongings. 

A city plan to clean a section of downtown Los Angeles designated the “Typhus Zone” that was supposed to begin earlier this week has been delayed as more clusters of the disease are expected to appear throughout the region.

“They haven’t even started sanitizing and removing the trash and rats from this enlarged area,” NBC 4 investigative reporter Joel Grover revealed on Wednesday. “They don’t even have a schedule together yet.”

Grover shared the information on KFI-AM 640’s Bill Handel Show where he described City Hall’s response to the growing number of typhus infections as “so slow and so bureaucratic.”

“They don’t have their act together,” he claimed.

Two weeks ago, health officials warned of a typhus outbreak downtown and Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to devise a plan for containment. Typhus is transmitted by infected fleas which are often carried by rodents and feral cats. While it cannot be passed person to person, typhus usually reaches humans by flea bites or infected flea feces.

In an investigation broadcast last Wednesday, Grover reported that the city had ignored “mountains of trash crawling with rats” that could have caused the disease to spread.

“The problem is there’s so much garbage and stuff piling up around downtown that we have a huge rat population,” Grover said to Handel. “Those fleas get on people’s dogs. I see all of these people walking their dogs through downtown and think, ‘that person is potentially at risk.’”

According to the Los Angeles Times, cleaning efforts targeting the typhus zone were supposed to have started on Monday. Garcetti had pledged $300,000 to pick up trash and sanitize that area, which includes parts of the Skid Row neighborhood, known for its high concentration of homeless people.

Grover told Handel that he met with city sanitation officials last week who outlined a plan to remove rats, stray animals, and rotting garbage from the designated zone.

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