Despite hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through Los Angeles to stem the rising tide of homelessness, a resurgence of medieval diseases has the city – and neighboring states – on edge. Typhoid fever and typhus, borne by fleas, body lice, and feces, are turning the once glitzy and glamorous city into a third-world worthy environment. Yes, Typhoid Mary is back, in a sense, living on the streets and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting people in the Golden State.
These diseases, along with an uptick in tuberculosis, hepatitis A, and staph, are easily and rapidly spread and have wide-reaching consequences. They’re highly contagious and can infect anyone through casual contact.
An LAPD officer was recently diagnosed with typhoid, and several other city employees are exhibiting the classic symptoms of high fever, muscle pain, and weakness. Left untreated, the disease can be fatal – and let’s face it: The malady wiped out entire populations during the Dark Ages and took a heavy toll on American Civil War soldiers and early American settlers. Some historians blame the malaise for obliterating the Jamestown settlement.
Where the Heck Did They Come From?
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority recently released a report showing 59,000 people living on the streets in Los Angeles County – a 12% increase since 2018 – with 36,300 of them within the city limits of Los Angeles. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), reports that “California accounted for 30% of all people experiencing homelessness as individuals” throughout the United States.
The progress of these once eradicated and near eradicated diseases is so alarming that the politicians who once spent copious amounts of time covering up the warts and putrid pustules in their liberally run cities and state are now showing disbelief and disgust. California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) broke his silence during his state of the state speech in February: “Our homeless crisis is increasingly becoming a public-health crisis. Typhus, a medieval disease. In California. In 2019.”
Los Angeles Mayor Gil Garcetti (D), who many believed would be a 2020 presidential contender, calls the crisis, “the biggest heartbreak for me and my city.” Garcetti campaigned extensively for the initiative known as Proposition HHH, which designated $1.2 billion over the next ten years to build homeless housing. But now residents are howling about the pricey plan’s abject failure. One local L.A. news outlet polled residents and found that “Forty-five percent said it’s failing, with 18 percent saying it’s a complete failure.”
Voters passed Propositions 47 (2014) and 57 (2016), downgrading theft and drug offenses to misdemeanors and redefining many felonies from violent to nonviolent to release a horde of inmates – some addicted to drugs and suffering from now untreated mental illness. And they wonder why there are so many people on the streets living, sleeping, and breathing surrounded by urine-soaked sidewalks and piles of human feces? And, of course, they don’t have to show symptoms to carry and transfer these diseases – simple casual contact from a carrier will do just fine.
Asymptomatic Mary Mallon was presumed to have infected over 50 people between 1907 and 1915, yet never experienced a day of sickness. She died under quarantine – from complications of a stroke, not typhoid. Her body was cremated and her ashes interred, but her legacy as Typhoid Mary lives on.
What’s the Plan?
Garcetti is doubling down on his homeless housing project, but his highest hurdle is his choice for building sites. It seems no Angeleno wants drugs, typhus, and hepatitis bubbling and festering on their own block. A short story made long, aside from Proposition HHH, there is no solid plan to curb the worsening rotting of Los Angeles.
There is a long-held belief that two American presidents succumbed to Typhoid. The ninth Commander in Chief, William Henry Harrison, is remembered to have died of pneumonia after only 31 days in office, but recent studies suggest he likely died from typhoid. Number 12, President Zachary Taylor, was most likely felled from the disease as well – due to the unsanitary conditions in the Swamp in the mid-19th century. Ironically, the only thing that seems to have changed in Washington, D.C. is that the deadly infections are in the heart and soul and not the body of the toadies on the Hill.
Here we are in the throes of the 21st century with running water, inoculations for just about every known malady of the last millennia, and welfare programs to heal the poorest of our citizens. Yet Los Angeles remains a hot, malodorous, infectious mess – and it could be spreading toward a city near you.
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