In Monrovia, California, Margaret Holzmann was recently suffering from a fever, headache, and fatigue, so she smartly got a COVID-19 test. The test was negative but she was still feeling ill weeks later. Her doctor asked if she had any contact with wild animals.
"'I thought, 'No, not really,'" she told KTLA5, "and then I thought, 'Oh, wait.' There was that rat!"
Holzmann had found a dead rat in her yard and tossed it into the trash. Turns out, infected fleas on the animal gave Hozlmann typhus.
After sharing her story on Nextdoor, as one does, Hozlmann found out that a neighbor two blocks away said "her grandfather got it around the same time I did and [it was] also, same thing: disposing of a dead rat on their property."
Typhus is actually a name given to three different bacterial diseases, all spread through a different insect or arachnid. With better sanitation, pest control, and the availability of antibiotics, typhus of any kind has become rare in the United States[..]
Flea-borne typhus is typically mild and often goes away on its own, even without antibiotic treatment. But prompt treatment can speed up recovery and help prevent rare complications like organ damage. Holzmann, for her part, hopes that her story can serve as a cautionary tale to stay away from dead animals.