We recently reported that over 100 people in the Los Angeles area have contracted the bacterial disease typhus, and the area’s public health officials are sounding the alarm about the infectious disease spreading.

At the epicenter of the epidemic are the homeless camps, and the Los Angeles Police Department station nearest to the city’s Skid Row is battling the rats and fleas that spread the typhus bacteria as the officers attempt to protect themselves from becoming ill.

LAPD cops stationed near downtown LA’s Skid Row now work in fear of becoming the newest victims of the county’s growing typhus epidemic, officers tell the NBC4 I-Team.

The LAPD confirms to the NBC4 I-Team there may be “a flea and rodent problem” inside the Central Station near Skid Row, home base for over 350 officers. This past Friday, the LAPD closed down the station to fumigate for fleas that could carry typhus. The station has been fumigated repeatedly since August but officers say the flea problem remains.

“They’re in the desk drawers, on the floor, they’re in the patrol cars,” an LAPD cop, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, told the I-Team. “In one case, the employee looked down at his pants and noticed it was covered with at least fifteen fleas,” the cop added.

Another LAPD employee filed a complaint with CAL OSHA over the flea problem, according to documents obtained by the I-Team.

In fact, KABC Los Angeles reported that last week the LAPD Skid Row station was fumigated once again in this ongoing battle against contagion.

The officers say this has done repeatedly since August and the problem is persisting. Some officers say they are getting sick as a result.

The LAPD has a video series offering Skid Row officers’ perspective.

There are an estimated 32,000 homeless people in the city. To help address this crisis, Los Angeles recently won a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies to pay for an experimental backyard housing program for the homeless. This is in addition to the $100,000 from Bloomberg to study the idea.

On Monday, the city won an addition $1 million to test the idea in real life. Los Angeles is one of nine winners of the US Mayors Challenge, a yearlong Bloomberg Philanthropies competition that tasked participants with developing innovative solutions to the nation’s toughest urban problems.

As the city refined its idea, the county was developing its own backyard program, which sets aside $550,000 for residents to convert their units or secure necessary permits. While the county received interest from around 500 homeowners, its funding only allows for three new backyard units and three renovated structures to be built.

I hope the plans for backyard housing include preventing the homeless from taking the rats and their fleas with them to their new accommodation. If not, typhus will spread to other communities and the LAPD Skid Row station will not be the only one experiencing a health crisis.

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