Residents Urged To Take Protective Measures At Evening Muni Band Concerts Due To West Nile Virus; Other Sobering Info At Council Briefing on WNVReturn To Front Page
(July 15, 2004) -- LB's Acting Public Health Officer has advised LB residents to take protective measures while attending this summer's dusk-time outdoor Muni Band concerts due to the spreading mosquito-borne West Nile Virus (WNV).
"[W]hen you're going to those events at the parks at nighttime you need to protective yourself because you can get bitten by one of these [WNV-infected] mosquitoes," Dr. Helene Calvet told the July 13 meeting of the City Council.
Dr. Calvet told the Council, "So far no humans in Long Beach have shown evidence of [WNV] disease, but...it's just a matter of time if people do not protect themselves."
In addition to wearing long-sleeve garments, Dr. Calvet said that DEET, an active ingredient in mosquito repellent, "is the best thing to try to prevent mosquito bites. It is recommended to use that if you're outdoors during dawn, dusk, early evening."
She noted that "wearing long sleeves and pants is helpful, but when it's warm out that may be difficult. Protect young infants by using mosquito netting and...repair or install screens on your windows and doors."
The mosquito-borne West Nile Virus produces no symptoms in most people, but generates flu like symptoms for about 1 in 5. Serious neurological illnesses (including meningitis) require hospitalization for about 1 in 150 bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito, occasionally leading to death.
"Is West Nile Virus infection serious? If it wasn't serious, I wouldn't be here talking to you tonight," Dr. Calvet said.
Dr. Calvet urged citizens to attend to items on their private property "that may collect water, such as rain gutters, cans in the backyard, discarded tires...One thing to look out for are your planters. Over-watering and having that water collect in the bottom of your planters can be a great place for mosquitoes to breed."
Regarding standing water on City Hall maintained property such as street gutters (an issue which LBReport.com has previously documented in photographs) LB City Engineer Mark Christoffels said staff is now aware of close to 2,500 locations citywide with damaged curbs and gutters that are resulting in standing water. He said these would cost close to $6 million to repair...and when City Hall now receives standing water complaints from residents, "we send them a letter indicating that we've identified it and we are, when funding becomes available, going to fix these locations." He added that the letter includes contact phone numbers...and a copy of the letter also goes to the LB Dept. of Health "so it can follow up in terms of having vector control spray the location to make sure that the ponded water doesn't result in mosquitoes."
Dr. Calvet said:
Now if you do have standing water in a public area, out in your gutter and other area, you can report this to the appropriate vector control district [caveat: see different advice from Greater LA County Vector Control District official, below] and what will happen is they were sample the water...to see if there's mosquitoes breeding there.
Not all standing water is going to breed mosquitoes. They're somewhat particular. They like water that's kind of calm, has lots of plant matter in it, is not in the direct sunlight. So any kind of perturbation along that line, the mosquitoes are not going to like it all that much, they're not going to breed there.
If they don't find mosquitoes, nothing necessarily needs to be done...If mosquito larvae are found, then the water will be treated. And what happens is that places that have consistent standing water get added to the list of areas that are regularly treated. So our vector control specialists will come and use different methods, sprays, pellets, etc. in these problem areas on a regular basis.
If there seems to be some defect in the sidewalk...leading to standing water, we will make referrals to Public Works to try to remediate these areas, but that's not going to happen right away.
The District Manager of the Compton Creek Mosquito Abatement District (handles NW corner of LB, see map below) stressed that homeowners "really are the front line in this. We cannot get to every single parcel in all of our districts and all of the County. It's going to take the homeowners, we really stress that -- the homeowners -- to look around their yards, talk to their neighbors and do whatever they can to relieve the standing water."
Dr. Calvet summarized by telling residents; "Protect yourself. We can't do everything. People need to use repellents, need to try to prevent the bite. They need to take care of their own yards or evaluate them for areas that may be potential breeding habitats.
Report the dead birds, but remember that they may not always be picked up...Report that standing water and do your best to try to prevent that..."
When City Engineer Christoffels suggested that in cases of shallow standing water on city streets, street sweepers and driving up and parking a car could disturb the water enough to cause mosquito problem to abate, he was corrected by Greater L.A. County Vector Control District General Manager Jack Hazelrigg who said "street sweepers temporarily may affect mosquito habitat, but they don't permanently affect a habitat. So when a street sweeper goes through, they're just going to disturb the water. They're not going to remove mosquito larvae from that habitat.
Mr. Hazelrigg said the Greater L.A. County Vector Control District, which services basically ELB (east of Lakewood Blvd., north of PCH) "routinely sprays gutter water, any standing water, on about a seven to ten day basis, so there's no need for the residents to call our district and report standing water."
He added that his agency has augmented its underground storm drain program "and we've spent a lot of time treating the underground storm drains on a regular basis. We've learned that the major mosquito vector in the Los Angeles basin [the southern house mosquito, most ubiquitous in County area, also found in backyards] [is] the one that spends a lot of time in the underground storm drains..."
As previously reported by LBReport.com, mosquito abatement in parts of LB is handled by three agencies:
In about half of LB (pink on map) mosquito abatement and vector control are performed by the LB Dept. of Health and Human Services (LBDHHS) through its Environmental Services Bureau.
ELB, plus parts of NLB, WLB, other scattered chunks and Signal Hill (yellow on map) are serviced by the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD). It's not a County body but a "special district" (a separate layer of government) funded by an assessment on ELB property tax bills.
LB's NW corner (west of the 710 fwy. roughly where it crosses LB Blvd.) is handled by the Compton Creek Mosquito Abatement District.
(Map source: LBDHHS; mosquito icons indicate mosquito surveillance trap sites; chicken icons indicate "sentinel chicken" sites (routinely tested for WNV); caveat: crow icon info is outdated; dead crows have greatly increased since map generated in May 2004).
As first reported in June by LBReport.com, Dr. William Reisen, Research Entomologist and Director in Residence, Mosquito & Arbovirus Ecology, Davis Arbovirus Research Unit told the June 9 meeting of the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District's Board of Trustees, "We're in the middle of the largest mosquito-borne virus outbreak in the history of North America, and the biggest West Nile [Virus] outbreak ever documented in the world."
Dr. Reisen added, "It's truly a test of organized mosquito control and public health as to whether they can rally to protect the residents of Los Angeles or the residents of California in general."
The report on LB's WNV efforts was agendized by 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell. The last time WNV heard a presentation from LB's Dept. of Health was in October 2002.
Recent LBReport.com coverage:
LB Dead Crow Toll Mounts, Dead Birds Increasingly Prevalent As West Nile Virus Spreads
West Nile Virus Infected Mosquitoes Found In Vicinity of Alamitos Bay Marina & PCH/Westminster area; Numerous Infected Dead Crows From Zips 90808 and 90815, Also Lakewood Zip 90713
LBUSD Sends Updated West Nile Virus Prevention Tips To Principals for Distribution to Staff & Parents; We Post Text
Kell Agendizes Report On City's West Nile Virus Efforts
West Nile Virus Watch:
LB Dept. Of Health Received Multiple ELB Resident Reports Re Standing Water In Untended Swimming Pool; Didn't Return Phone Calls; Didn't Refer Reports To County Vector Control And Didn't Ensure Follow Up
ELB Neighbors Now Say They've Got Mosquitoes En Masse, Can't Be Outside At Dusk And Just Found A Dying Crow
Incident Follows Other Reports of Standing Water in ELB Streets, Gutters
First LB West Nile Virus Infected Mosquitoes Found Vicinity Heartwell Park
West Nile Virus Warning Signs To Be Posted in El Dorado, Heartwell Parks
Two New West Nile Virus Dead Crows From LB (90807 & 90804) + Three From Lakewood (90712 and 90713) + Two From Hawaiian Gardens (90716)
LBUSD Administrators Alerted to West Nile Virus Prevention Tips
Dead Crows, Possibly West Nile Virus Infected, Increasingly Visible in Cerritos
West Nile Virus Warning Signs Posted @ Lakewood Golf Course & Bolivar Park in Lakewood
Ground Zero For West Nile Virus: See Maps Showing WNV Totals & Recent WNV-Infected Dead Birds
It's Here: Dead Crow w/ West Nile Virus ID'd in LB; Residents Again Urged to Take Precautions
ELB Email to LBReport.com Cites Add'l Standing Water
More WNV Infected Crows in Cerritos...And First CA 04 Human Case in San B'dino County
West Nile Virus Expert Says We're In Midst Of Largest Mosquito-Borne Virus Outbreak in North American History & Biggest West Nile Virus Outbreak Ever Documented in the World
Editorial: Biting Back: Our Suggestions Re WNV in LB
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