Los Angeles, CA – At least one Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer has contracted the bacteria that causes typhoid fever, and another has typhus-like symptoms.
LAPD confirmed Wednesday that the first officer, who works at LAPD’s Central Station, is being treated for the disease which is carried by rats and fleas, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The police department confirmed that a second officer fell ill with a lower-intestinal infection that appears to have the same symptoms, but also said typhoid had not yet been diagnosed.
A source told the Los Angeles Times that a third LAPD officer had become ill and been sent home with similar symptoms.
All three affected are detectives who work out of the same building.
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Symptoms include stomach pain, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
Although typhoid is more commonly found in parts of the world where water has been contaminated by sewage, Los Angeles has been waging a losing war against an exploding rat population, KNBC reported.
Unlike other major cities, Los Angeles has no formal rat abatement program.
The city experienced a record-breaking typhus epidemic in recent years, and it has been linked to the trash and vermin that have resulted from the city’s burgeoning homeless encampments, KNBC reported.
The California Department of Public Health said there were 124 cases in Los Angeles County alone in 2018.
In the past, the disease has only been diagnosed in the city’s homeless population, but so far this year it was also attacked city employees.
Before the epidemic hit the police department, Deputy City Attorney Liz Greenwood was diagnosed with it in April, according to KNBC.
It took two months for the veteran prosecutor to recover before she could return to work.
“Unfortunately, our police officers often patrol in adverse environments and can be exposed to various dangerous elements,” the LAPD said in a statement on Thursday, according to ABC News. “We have notified the Police Protective League as well as our employees working at Central Division, about the outbreak and we have further provided them with strategies to stay healthy while we mitigate this issue.”
LAPD said in a statement that they were working with the city to “disinfect any work areas that may have been exposed” at the Central Station.
Officers have been told to report fleas if they see them while patrolling in the city, KNBC reported.
Only 350 people a year are diagnosed with typhoid fever in the United States, usually after travelling to third world countries, according to the CDC.