Woman Says She Got Typhus From Working at Rat-Infested City Hall

Playing Return of ‘Medieval’ Diseases Like Typhus Threaten ‘Widespread Health Crisis’

Typhus is seeing a resurgence among the homeless population of Los Angeles, and it's not just them who are at risk. 

Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Elizabeth Greenwood has filed a claim against the city for $5 million after she says she contracted the disease due to a rat infestation at City Hall. 

Typhus can be spread rats carrying infected fleas. It can cause extremely high fever, headache and muscle pain.

The ancient disease dates back hundreds of years, and while it was once common, it's now rare, occurring largely in areas with poor sanitation, making its resurgence in LA all the more worrying. 

Typhus is being seen primarily among the homeless population because they often live in unsanitary conditions. 

Negeen Farmand, a physician assistant with the Saban Community Clinic, often hits the streets to test people for typhus and other illnesses and help treat them. 

"Typhus ... was something that was eradicated so many years ago," Farmand said. "To have that come up again tells you that how bad the situation is."

Greenwood knows this firsthand. She contracted typhus last year and told Inside Edition she's never experienced such pain before in her life. 

"It felt like someone was driving stakes, railroad stakes through my eyes," Greenwood recalled. "It absolutely disabled me."

Dr. Drew Pinsky told Inside Edition typhus isn't the only medieval disease experiencing a comeback, explaining that the plague and tuberculosis are seeing a resurgence as well. 

"People are getting sick," Pinsky said. "People are going to die this summer."

Asked about Greenwood's claims about City Hall, Rob Wilcox, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles City Attorney's office, told the Los Angeles Times that employee's health is “of paramount concern.”

“The facts are that there was vigorous testing in City Hall and surrounding buildings and not one flea was found,” Wilcox said. “And there have been no other claims of typhus alleged by city employees. City leaders remain committed to our employees’ health and safety.”

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