“As Bad As Zimbabwe”
Typhus, tuberculosis, and other ancient illnesses are spreading quickly
| The Atlantic – Infectious diseases – some that ravaged populations in the Middle Ages – are resurging in California and around the country, and are hitting homeless populations especially hard.
Los Angeles recently experienced an outbreak of typhus—a disease spread by infected fleas on rats and other animals—in downtown streets. Officials briefly closed part of City Hall after reporting that rodents had invaded the building.
People in Washington State have been infected with the diarrheal disease shigella, spread through feces, as well as Bartonella Quintana, or trench fever, which spreads through body lice.
Medieval diseases are making a comeback across U.S.
Hepatitis A, also spread primarily through feces, infected more than 1,000 people in Southern California in the past two years.
Third World conditions infest U.S. cities – a ‘public health disaster’
“Our homeless crisis is increasingly becoming a public-health crisis,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in his State of the State speech in February, citing outbreaks of hepatitis A in San Diego County, syphilis in Sonoma County, and typhus in Los Angeles County.
“Typhus,” he said. “A medieval disease. In California. In 2019.”
The diseases spread quickly and widely among people living outside or in shelters, helped along by sidewalks contaminated with human feces, crowded living conditions, weakened immune systems, and limited access to health care.
“The hygiene situation is just horrendous” for people living on the streets, says Glenn Lopez, a physician with St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, who treats homeless patients in Los Angeles County. “It becomes just like a Third World environment, where their human feces contaminate the areas where they are eating and sleeping.” Read more.