As a nurse, I was shocked to learn diseases once epidemic in the Middle Ages are returning with a vengeance. LA recently experienced an outbreak of typhus fever, a disease spread by infected fleas on rats. It is also transmitted by body lice. The louse feeds on a human that is infected with the bacteria, this bacteria grows in the stomach and intestine of the louse, it then excretes the waste once the louse has moved to another person which in turn infects the next person with the disease. The condition weakens the individual. The symptoms are high fever, stupor, intense headache, and a dark red rash.
Homelessness has reached a public-health crisis. Hepatitis A, syphilis, and typhus are some of the diseases affecting the street people due to the conditions they are living in. Public Health officials are warning that these diseases can easily jump beyond the homeless population. The diseases spread quickly and widely among people living outside, fueled by walks contaminated with human feces, crowded living conditions, weakened immune systems, and limited access to healthcare. The human feces contaminate the areas where these people are sleeping.
The recent typhus outbreak in California may be due to people feeding stray cats carrying infected fleas. Washington state has had problems with trench fever and the bacteria, Shigella which causes uncontrollable diarrhea. It’s usually prevalent during wars and natural disasters. The bacteria spreads through body lice. People living on the streets are vulnerable and are living in squalid conditions without clean water or sewer treatment. More needs to be done, before things get worse, and we have a world crisis on our hands.