LONG BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) -- Authorities in Long Beach and Orange County are warning residents about the growing problem of flea-borne typhus.
Flea-born typhus, also known as endemic typhus and murine typhus, is caused by bacteria found in infected fleas and their feces.
The exact number of cases this year is still under investigation, but it could be as high as 25, according to Orange County Vector Control.
Last year, there were 15 reported cases of the disease in the county.
The cases are mainly in the northern section of Orange County, including Huntington Beach and Seal Beach, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports.
In Long Beach, 11 cases of flea-borne typhus have been reported this year, compared to nine reported for all of 2011, officials said.
There were no known cases of flea-borne typhus in the city of Long Beach before 2006, according to the Press-Telegram.
According to health officials, rodents and opossums are still the most frequent carriers of the vector fleas.
But there has also been an increase in the number of domestic cats carrying flea-borne typhus.
Symptoms of flea-borne typhus begin one to three weeks after exposure and include high fever, headaches, chills, body aches and pains and a rash on the arms, chest, back or legs.
Health officials say that you can help protect yourself from flea-borne typhus by getting flea control medication for your pet.
Authorities are also encouraging people to remove pet food from outside, cover garbage cans and trim vegetation where rodents and other animals can hide.
If you see dead opossums, cats or other animals, you should call the Bureau of Animal Control at 562-570-7387.
For more information, you can contact Orange County Vector Control at 714-971-2421.
Flea-Borne Typhus on the Rise in O.C., Long Beach