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Flea-borne typhus activity on the rise in Tarrant County

Posted Dec. 4, 2017

image of flea bites on skin
Five or six days after initial symptoms appear, a rash that starts on the trunk of the body and spreads to the arms and legs may occur.

Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) issued a health alert to area health care providers in response to a rise in local flea-borne typhus cases.

TCPH has reported 22 cases so far this year, compared to six cases in 2016, four in 2015 and three in 2014. Cook Children’s has seen eight cases this year. The Texas Department of State Health Services says it has seen more than 400 cases, the most in 16 years.

Typhus can occur in any age group, but more than 25 percent of the cases are reported among those aged 6-15.

Flea-borne typhus is caused by an infection with the bacterium Rickettsia typhi. Rat and cat fleas are the primary carriers, but other animals such as dogs and possums can carry the infection.

Transmission to humans can occur when infected flea feces are scratched into a bite site or another abrasion to the skin, or rubbed into to the mucous membrane that covers the front of the eyes and lines the inside of the eyelids.

Early symptoms of flea-borne typhus develop within 14 days of contact with infected fleas and include headache, fever, nausea and body aches. Five or six days after the initial symptoms, a rash that starts on the trunk of the body and spreads to the arms and legs may occur. Other causes may be warmer weather, the amount of rain lately or more people owning pets.

The best precautions to guard against contracting flea-borne typhus are:

  • Keep yards clean so that rodents, possums and stray cats cannot live there. Remove any brush or trash, keep the grass mowed and keep firewood off the ground.
  • Do not leave pet food out at night as this attracts other animals.
  • Prevent rodents from living in houses.
  • Treat for fleas with a commercial flea control product before beginning rodent control in houses or yards. Fleas will search for new hosts when rodents die.
  • Control fleas on pets regularly. Ask a veterinarian about flea control products that are safe to use on pets.
  • Wear gloves and insect repellent when handling sick or dead animals.
  • Use insect repellant when hunting, camping or engaging in any other outdoor activities.

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City Council Meeting: 7 p.m. Dec. 12, 2017; City Council Chambers, Second Floor, City Hall, 200 Texas Street.
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Workforce Solutions Board of Directors: 9 a.m. Dec. 13, 2017; The Amon Carter Center at Lena Pope, 3200 Sanguinet.
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Metropolitan Area EMS Authority Board: 10 a.m. Dec. 13, 2017; Medstar, 2900 Alta Mere Drive.
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Zoning Commission Work Session: 11:30 a.m. Dec. 13, 2017; City Hall, second floor, City Council Conference Room 290, 200 Texas Street.
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Zoning Commission Public Hearing: 1 p.m. Dec. 13, 2017; City Hall, second floor, Council Chamber, 200 Texas Street.
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Fort Worth Water Department Wholesale Water and Wastewater Advisory Committee Meeting: 2:30 p.m. Dec. 13, 2017; Fort Worth Botanic Gardens, Oak Hall, 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.
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Park and Recreation Advisory Board: 4 p.m. Dec. 13, 2017; Deborah Beggs Moncrief Garden Center, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, 3220 Botanic Garden Boulevard.
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Mayor's Committee on Persons with Disabilities: 10 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; Hazel Harvey Peace Center for Neighborhoods, Room 201 AB, 818 Missouri Avenue.
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Fort Worth Housing Solutions Board: 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; FWHS Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th Street.
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Brunch with Santa at MLK Jr. Community Center: 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, 5565 Truman Drive.

Quadco Management Solutions, Inc.: 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; FWHS Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th.
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Fort Worth Affordability Inc.: 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; FWHS Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th Street.
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Eastwood Public Facility Corporation: 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; FWHS Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 15th Street.
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Ironwood Crossing Public Facility Corporation: 11 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; FWHS Administrative Office Board Room, 1201 East 13th Street.
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Point(less) Pitches and Presentations: 11:30 a.m. Dec. 14, 2017; James E. Guinn Entrepreneurial Campus, Business Assistance Center, 1150 South Freeway.
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Community Action Partners Council: 12:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 2017; Fort Worth Botanic Garden Orchid Room, 3220 Botanic Garden Boulevard.
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Regional Transportation Council: 1 p.m. Dec. 14, 2017; North Central Texas Council of Governments, Transportation Council Room (1st Floor), 616 Six Flags Drive, Arlington, TX.
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Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Commission: 6 p.m. Dec. 14, 2017; Tarrant Regional Water District, Conference Room, 800 E Northside Drive.
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Winter Wonderland at Como Community Center: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 2017; Como Community Center, 4900 Horne St.

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Notice of Public Meeting - Municipal Setting Designation for 2417 East Long Avenue: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14, 2017; Diamond Hill Community Center, 1701 NE 36th Street.
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Minority and Women Business Enterprise Advisory Committee: 11:30 a.m. Dec. 15, 2017; James E. Guinn Building, 1st Floor, PharmaFab Conference Room 116, 1150 South Freeway.
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City Plan Commission Work Session: noon Dec. 15, 2017; City Council Conference Room 290, 200 Texas Street, 2nd Floor.
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City Plan Commission: 1:30 p.m. Dec. 15, 2017; City Council Conference Room 290, 200 Texas Street, 2nd Floor.
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Cookies with Santa at Andrew Doc Session Community Center: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 15, 2017; Andrew Doc Session Community Center, 201 S. Sylvania Ave .

Christmas Gala at Southside Community Center: 6 p.m. Dec. 15, 2017; Southside Community Center, 959 E. Rosedale St.

Holiday Shop 'N Drop at Hillside Community Center: 8 a.m. Dec. 16, 2017; Hillside Community Center, 1201 E. Maddox Ave.

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