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    Council Directs City Mgt. To Provide Monthly West Nile Reports & Report on Standing Water in Storm Drains & Culverts; City Mgt. Promises Comprehensive Report on Sept. 7 That Will Also Address Stagnant Water On Residential Property

    (August 25, 2004) -- At its August 24 meeting, the LB City Council approved a motion by 4th district Councilman Patrick O'Donnell requesting monthly reports on the LB Health Dept.'s activities and coordination with the Greater L.A. County Vector Control District to combat the spread of the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus (WNV)

    Noting that the 4th district has several open storm drains with the potential for mosquito breeding, Councilman O'Donnell's motion also asked the City Manager to provide an updated report on measures to avoid stagnant water buildup in, and general maintenance of, storm drains, culverts and open drainage in his district and citywide.

    City Manager Jerry Miller indicated that city staff plans to present a comprehensive report on Sept. 7 and added "we are looking at a residential based intervention that is going to be fairly broad...[W]e are going to provide a very comprehensive report...that includes the residential level."

    Discussion of stagnant water on private property was sparked by Vice Mayor Jackie Kell, who asked city management to include the subject in its upcoming report.

    "I'm starting to really think that we're really doing a very good job spraying on public properties and in the gutters and in the streets...but I think the menace is now starting to show up in the private properties," Vice Mayor Kell said...and referenced actions by the L.A. City Council in preparing an ordinance to make it easier to access private property.

    LB Dept. of Health and Human Services director Ron Arias said city staff believes that because LB is a local health jurisdiction [one of only four statewide with its own Health Dept] and there are several Health and Safety code sections on the books "we believe [these] provide us with the legal authority to deal with what we would deem to be a health threat, so we feel that we have that ability currently, however we are certainly monitoring...what's happening in the city of L.A...but we're also feeling confident that the city [LB] Health Officer has the authority to initiate that type of action if it's required."

    In describing his department's efforts, Mr. Arias said:

    We're out there six days a week, we've increased our staff...we've asked all of our environmental health specialists, approximately 20 members of our staff, to begin a daily canvassing of the neighborhoods that they're working in. These are people that are already doing housing and restaurant inspections, so they're going to be taking breaks from their daily routines to actually go into the neighborhoods that they're working in to do "door to door"...basically asking residents to allow us to actually do a visual inspection...

    6th district Councilwoman Laura Richardson remarked that she has begun seeing dead crows in her central city district and recently found two dead birds in her neighborhood -- one in front of her house, another in her backyard. "I think for people who tend to think, as I have, that this is more of an eastside issue, we are sadly mistaken. It actually is flying all over this city," she said.

    3d district Councilman Frank Colonna said the San Gabriel Mountains and River Conservancy, which he chairs, had corresponded on Aug. 24 with the Greater L.A. County Vector Control District in wanting to make sure that as open space becomes available in LB and other areas, "we're going to be partnering with the other cities that receive the grants that we're assisting them with, and making sure that we can deal with potential [new] mosquito habitat..."

    8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich says her office is receiving dozens of telephone calls each week reporting dead birds. Noting that her district is near the flood control channel and L.A. river bed, Councilwoman Gabelich asked how often these areas are sprayed to suppress mosquitoes. Mr. Arias replied, "For the most part, we're spraying on a weekly basis, and I will definitely bring back more data and information detailing all of those operations..."

    As of August 24, the CA Dept. of Health Services reported that L.A. County had 100 confirmed WNV cases...nearly double the number reported a week earlier. San Bernardino County is second (as of 8/24) with 98 cases, followed by Riverside with 54.

    "Of the 260 WNV cases with symptoms, 102 are classified as West Nile fever cases, 102 are classified as West Nile neuroinvasive disease [encephalitis or meningitis], and 56 are of unknown status. The median age for all cases where data was available = 51 years (range: 2-91 years). Median age for West Nile fever cases = 47 years (range: 9-84 years). Median age for West Nile neuroinvasive disease cases = 59 years (range: 5-91 years). 165/260 (63%) of the cases are male. There have been seven fatalities to date in California in Orange (1), San Bernardino (2) and Los Angeles (4) counties," the CA DHS says.

    One of L.A. County's four fatalities to date was in ELB (zip code 90808). As of August 20, three of L.A. County's current cases (not fatalities) are in LB.

    Related coverage: collected West Nile Virus coverage

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