Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff 

Infectious Disease Doctor From UCLA Health Warns City About Threat of Typhoid and HIV in Garages Used as Campground by Homeless

Third World diseases are stewing in the city's filthy garages: Hepatitis, Plague, Typhoid, Cholera, and HIV are just a few

 

September 4, 2021

John Alle

A meth addict using a garage storage area for his belongings and bodily functions

Infectious Disease Doctor From UCLA Health Warns City About Threat of Typhoid and HIV in Garages Used as Campground by Homeless

Third Street Promenade property owner John Alle asked Dr. Lewis Simon, an infectious disease doctor from UC San Diego, currently working for Santa Monica's UCLA Health Center, to walk through the city's public garages with him over a year ago, when Alle first noted the meth manufacture and human waste in the structures. Dr. Simon came on his own tour of the area last month and, appalled by the conditions he saw, wrote the following letter to the city. He noted conditions that could lead to the transmission of Third World diseases like Plague, Typhoid, and Cholera - sicknesses that citizens and visitors to Santa Monica should never have cause to fear. The presence of used needles, blood, vomit, feces, and vomit could also lead to HIV, Syphilis, and Leptospirosis.

None of the issues raised by Dr. Simon have been addressed by city elected officials or staff.

Below is the letter in full.

Lewis Simon, MPH [email protected]

July 26, 2021

Mayor Sue Himmelrich Interim City Manager John Jalili

City Parking Manager Henry Servin DTSM CEO Kathleen Rawson

DTSM Deputy CEO Steven Welliver

Re: Concerns regarding hazardous conditions in parking garages, stairwells, elevators and open dumpster rooms

Dear Mayor Himmelrich, Interim City Manager Jalili, City Parking Manager Servin, DTSM CEO Rawson and DTSM Deputy CEO Welliver,

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the substandard conditions currently present in a number of parking garages and dumpster rooms within downtown Santa Monica.

Having seen photos and read articles about the current conditions, I also visited the area and saw the conditions for myself. Examples of the dangerous conditions present in Downtown Santa Monica include but are not limited to improperly disposed medical waste and sharps (needles and syringes), human waste in the form of urine and feces, other biohazards in the form of blood and vomit, and rodents and rodent waste.

Having recently had the opportunity to see examples for myself, I can most certainly corroborate the concerns of Santa Monica citizens, visitors and business owners regarding these conditions.

Each of the evidential examples of the potentially dangerous conditions and hazards currently present in Downtown Santa Monica parking garages, stairwells, elevators and open dumpster rooms mentioned above is potentially associated with an increased risk of developing a number of human diseases for those exposed.

A list of these hazards and human diseases that

are known to be potentially associated with exposure to each hazard is included below for your information and review: with an increased risk of acquiring bloodborne pathogens that can potentially lead to very serious diseases such as Syphilis, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), West Nile Virus, Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, and more (CDC, 2021; OSHA, 2021).

Human waste (feces): Accidental ingestion of or contact with human feces is associated with an increased risk of acquiring pathogens that can potentially lead to diseases such as Hepatitis A Virus (HAV), Typhoid, Escherichia Coli (E. coli) infection, Cholera, Shigellosis, Rotavirus, Cryptosporidiosis, and more (WHO, 2021).

Human waste (urine): Contact with human urine is not directly associated with human disease but does serve as an attractant for rats and other rodents, which in turn can potentially cause disease and overall unsanitary conditions in the area.

Other biohazards (blood/vomit): Contact with infected blood or other bodily secretions is associated with an increased risk of acquiring bloodborne pathogens that can potentially lead to very serious diseases such as Syphilis, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), West Nile Virus, Viral Hemorrhagic Fever, and more (CDC, 2021; OSHA, 2021).

John Alle

The garage elevators have become bedrooms (and bathrooms) for vagrants

Rodents and rodent waste: Contact with rodents, rodent droppings or rodent urine is associated with an increased risk of acquiring pathogens that can potentially lead to diseases such as Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, Plague, Tularemia, and more (CDC, 2021).

Due to the aforementioned hazardous conditions and their associated risks, changes need to be made to address these hazards not just to improve the overall conditions present in Downtown Santa Monica parking garages, stairwells, elevators and open dumpster rooms, but to also help ensure that no visitors, residents, employees or business owners unintentionally contract a disease from them.

Thank you for your time and for your consideration, and I sincerely hope that changes can be enacted in a timely manner to begin addressing the aforementioned unsanitary and potentially dangerous conditions.

Sincerely,

Lewis Simon, MPH

 

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