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Cameron County Resident Avoiding Disease Spread by Fleas

3 years 4 months 2 weeks ago Monday, July 10 2017 Jul 10, 2017 July 10, 2017 5:26 PM July 10, 2017 in News

HARLINGEN - A Harlingen pet owner is taking preventive steps to avoid a disease spread by fleas. Five cases of Typhus were reported in her county since June 1. 

Typhus is a bacterial disease spread by infected fleas. It can be fatal. It's especially prevalent in the warm coastal areas.  So, some local pet owners are taking precautions to avoid it.

Sharon Champagne said she is one of Harlingen's top dog lovers. She owns five.

She is very careful keeping bugs away. 

"We spray our yard. And we are real heavy into spraying it with Dawn detergent to keep the fleas down. We keep it dry," said Champagne.

As clean as she keeps her dogs and her yard, Champagne is worried fleas carrying Typhus could enter her home.

"Just make sure that there's none around. No strays coming into my yard. That's why my yard is all gated, to protect them," she added.

Champagne said she gives her dogs vaccinations and uses flea collars. 

Esmeralda Guajardo of the Cameron County Health Department said the summer months put homeowners most at risk.

"Pet owners are at risk because they take their dogs outside and their cats, and sometimes they're outside and when they come inside the house, the fleas will be inside the household. So in the household, the individuals are at risk of being bitten by the fleas," she said.

Guajardo mentioned Cameron County has had 10 reported Typhus cases in total this year. She said the county is more at risk for diseases carried by fleas than other parts of the country.

"A lot of it is because of the heat and the socioeconomic status here, air conditioning and so a lot of the fleas tend to get inside the property," said Guajardo.

Guajardo added fleas breed in cool areas, so they will likely be breeding in Cameron County houses built on stilts.

Guajardo said the only way a healthcare professional can determine someone has Typhus is through blood work. She said if you have symptoms, check with a healthcare professional immediately.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends detecting symptoms of Typhus early.

The CDC states Typhus symptoms include fever and chills, body aches, loss of appetite, nausea and stomach pain. 

The CDC adds a rash can also occur five days after the disease is contracted.

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