LA City Hall may remove carpets amid downtown typhus outbreak

Maricruz Casares
Febrero 9, 2019

City Council President Herb Wesson has asked staff to report on the scope of current vermin problems in the Los Angeles Civic Centre complex, which is the main site of the current outbreak.

- An LA city hall worker has been infected with typhus in an outbreak that has been plaguing downtown Los Angeles for months.

The motion says that within two weeks, Wesson's office was also experiencing fleas in the carpets, and removed all of that floor covering.

"Employees shouldn't have to come to work anxious about rodents", Wesson told the Times.

'I intend to do whatever it is we need'.

Workers have reportedly seen evidence of rats in multiple offices, including tiny paw prints on desks and signs that the rodents were nesting in potted plants. During a Halloween party past year, a rat chewed through a pumpkin decoration.

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Greenwood never thought showing up for work at City Hall could leave her fighting for her life. "I had a 102 degree fever", Greenwood says.

The California Department of Public Health first reported the flea-borne typhus outbreak in L.A. County in October and said that the affected area included large parts of downtown where homeless populations sleep, including Skid Row.

Los Angeles is now coping with an outbreak of typhus, a tick and flea-borne disease commonly spread by vermin such as rats, cats and possums. Greenwood told the Times she has not returned to work since November because she is "terrified of entering the building again until they do something".

The motion would instruct city staff to report back with a cost estimate and plan to remove all carpets in City Hall and City Hall East, and to report back with an assessment of all live plants in any city building, city-owned facility and city-operated facility within downtown, including which varieties are most attractive to vermin. Murine, or endemic, typhus the strain in Los Angeles, infects people when infected flea feces are rubbed into cuts or scrapes in skin.

The motion also suggests exploring the drafting of a policy that would require all city employees to secure their food after hours and require custodial services to dispose of all food left out by any employee.

Symptoms include high fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, rashes, and in some severe cases, internal bleeding, according to the California Department of Public Health.

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