Mountains of rat-infested uncollected garbage are piling up in Los Angeles and experts are afraid that they may spur on an epidemic of disease that could have been prevented.
The trash has been abandoned by the city and attracts rats that can carry fleas and spread diseases like typhus.
A report from NBC4-Los Angeles found that the business owners and residents are angry at the city for allowing the garbage to worsen and threaten their health.
"I can't walk down the street without thinking that a flea could jump on me," said Estela Lopez, a local business leader.
One study found that Los Angeles is the second most rat-infested city in the country, with New York lagging behind in third place, but Chicago coming out on top with a first-place finish.
"Trash and food waste attracts rats," said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, UCLA infectious disease specialist. "It does pose a public health risk."
NBC reporters said they spoke to the Mayor Gil Garcetti about the garbage in October 2018, and it was cleared away by the city. But after that initial clean-up, the garbage has begun to collect once again.
Klausner said that the rat and garbage problem in Los Angeles ranked among the worst he's seen in the third world.
Celebrity Doctor Drew Pinksy predicted in 2018 that Los Angeles was headed toward a typhus epidemic and even a plague. He added that there would likely be a panic with officials killing wild animals in an attempt to control it.
"It'll be a big panic, when they should be doing something right now!" he said. "But they won't, they'll wait 'til the panic."
The mayor declined to be interviewed by the news team for the follow-up report.
Here's the report from NBC in Los Angeles:
Rotting Trash in Los Angeles | NBCLA www.youtube.com