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Rat-infested piles of rotting garbage left uncollected by the city of Los Angeles, even after promises to clean it up, are fueling concerns about a new epidemic after last year's record number of flea-borne typhus cases.
Even the city's most notorious trash pile, located between downtown LA's busy Fashion and Produce districts, continues to be a magnet for rats after it was cleaned up months ago. The rodents 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, resulting in severe flu-like symptoms.
NBC4 - I-Team - Mayor - Eric - Garcetti
The NBC4 I-Team first told Mayor Eric Garcetti's office about the piles of filth in the 700 block of Ceres Avenue in October. At the time, he promised to make sure trash doesn't pile up like that.
The garbage was cleaned after the interview, but conditions have worsened over the next seven months.
Street - Flea - Estela - Lopez - Business
"I can’t walk down the street without thinking that a flea could jump on me," said Estela Lopez, who represents business owners in the area.
After reporting the pile of waste to the city's 311 services hotline, the I-Team was told it could take up to 90 days before it's cleaned.
Disease - Specialist - Dr - Jeffrey - Klausner
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, of UCLA, said there's no time to waste.
"Trash and food waste attracts rats," said Klausner. "It does pose a public health risk."
Rat - Population - Spread - Strains - Salmonella
An out-of-control rat population can even lead to the spread of dangerous strains of salmonella and bubonic plague, he noted.
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