Los Angeles has gained quite the reputation of being a literal shit hole as of late. The city’s homeless problem has gotten so bad that there are interactive maps that allow residents and visitors to avoid stepping in mounds of human feces. City Hall is suffering from a rat infestation so severe that jokes drawing comparison to the local politicians have become rather boring.
Now, however, it looks like the City of Angels is in danger of facing a blast from the past in the form of an outbreak of bubonic plague (emphasis added):
Trash is a growing problem for residents in Los Angeles and as the garbage piles up, so do the rats, fueling concerns about flea-borne typhus, according to reports.
Last October, after at least nine reports of the disease, Los Angeles officials cleaned up some of the worst piles of garbage, NBC Los Angeles reported. But now, the trash has accumulated once again.
“I can’t walk down the street without thinking that a flea could jump on me,” Estela Lopez, executive director of the LA Downtown Industrial Business Improvement District, told the outlet.
It could reportedly take up to 90 days for the trash to be removed once again, according to NBC Los Angeles. The outlet also reported that the city has no plan for controlling its rodent population.
All that garbage attracts rats, which “pose a public health risk,” an infectious disease specialist told the outlet, because the rodents can lead to the spread of salmonella and bubonic plague — not to mention fleas that have been infected with typhus.
At least nine people were reported ill with typhus in downtown Los Angeles between July and September, with officials pointing to refuse and stray animals as potential catalysts, according to reports from October.
That’s right. The disease that devastated medieval Europe and Asia is poised to possibly make an appearance in Los Angeles. Why? Because the local government is either unable or unwilling to deal with the city’s extreme sanitation problems.
While the bubonic plague is still around in third world countries in Africa, the disease hasn’t reached pandemic levels since the 19th century. That particular outbreak of the plague originated in China at the end of the century, and actually led to the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act here in the United States.
Countries with poor hygiene such as India, Zambia, Malawi, Peru, and several others have seen fairly regular outbreaks of bubonic plague since 2001. The dirt-poor island nation of Madagascar has hosted regular plague parties since 2012 due to political unrest and, say it together, poor hygiene.
The last major outbreak of bubonic plague in the United States occurred in 1924.
Also in Los Angeles.
Let that sink in.