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
Further re ELB and WNV
(July 8, 2004) -- For months, state, regional and LB government agencies have warned that stagnant water offers a breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry the West Nile Virus (WNV).
Yet a number of ELB residents say their civic-minded attempts to alert LB's taxpayer-funded Dept. of Health and Human Services (LBDHHS) to stagnant water in an untended ELB swimming pool brought no return phone calls from their City Hall run agency. The residents' complaints came during the period of April-June 2004...before WNV began killing crows and showing up in mosquitoes locally.
LBReport.com has since learned that the LB Dept. of Health did not refer the residents' complaints to the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD), which handles mosquito abatement in ELB. Instead, LB's Health Dept. staff undertook efforts, some arguably unorthodox, that may not have been followed-up...resulting in the stagnant, untreated water remaining at a residence where the owners were recently deceased.
Now some neighbors in the immediate area say they are experiencing mosquito levels that prevent them from using their backyards on summer nights, especially around dusk.
"The mosquitoes are bad around here and we must bring our children in as dusk approaches," emailed Michael Berry, who added, "For over 90 days we and other neighbors have reported the green pool to the Long Beach Vector control number...with no feedback or response."
Another neighborhood resident, Claudia Boyle, was similarly displeased by officialdom's response and on learning we were preparing this story, emailed the following statement:
I am very disappointed and concerned by the lack of response from the City of Long Beach. My neighbors and I tried to address the hazardous condition before it became a problem, that is before mosquito season really kicked in. We called the number on the pamphlet provided by city several times each and were only able to leave a message but never got any calls back. In the mean time the mosquitoes started to come like never before and now months later I have a dying crow wandering my yard a day before my children and grandchildren arrive. I can not even go in my back yard!
Mr. Berry emailed us a photo of a sick, apparently dying crow on Ms. Boyle's property. After getting recordings and voice mail from other agencies, Mr. Berry said he called LB Animal Control directly...and they indicated they'd send out someone to pick up the dying crow.
As first reported by LBReport.com, LB's first WNV-infected dead
crow was found in early June in ELB.
WNV infected mosquitoes were first identified at Lakewood Golf Course, then in early July were identified in the Heartwell Park vicinity near Carson St. at Woodruff Ave. and near the San Gabriel River. GLACVCD has now posted WNV warning signs in LB's Heartwell Park and El Dorado Regional Park.
GLACVCD, which handles mosquito abatement in the area east of Lakewood Blvd. and north of PCH (as well as large parts of southern and eastern L.A. County and up through the San Fernando Valley), says it didn't receive any telephone referrals on the ELB untended pool situation from LB's Dept. of Health...although it has received other referrals, especially recently.
GLACVCD Operations Supervisor Mark Hall told LBReport.com that the first report his agency received concerning the untended pool in the area came on July 2 -- and didn't come from LB's Dept. of Health but came directly from an area resident.
GLACVCD says it dispatched a crew...which treated a bird bath in front of the house, but couldn't get access to the backyard pool.
"We didn't realize the owners were deceased but we do have procedures we can implement to gain access and deal with water in untended swimming pools," said Mr. Hall.
In response to an inquiry from LBReport.com, Jeff Benedict, Manager of Environmental Health for LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services, checked his records and confirmed that his agency had received multiple complaints about the property...and it was possible the complaints were not referred to GLACVCD.
"We occasionally handle some complaints directly ourselves, even if it's in ELB [within the GLACVCD mosquito abatement area]," Mr. Benedict said, noting that LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services also has authority to control rodents and other vectors that GLACVCD doesn't.
Mr. Benedict said that it appears an LB Dept. of Health vector control specialist went to the location, tried to access the backyard and couldn't...and may have left some briquettes of larvaecide with a neighbor, hoping they might be given to a relative of the decedents who might check on the property. Mr. Benedict said the briquettes, slightly bigger than a ping pong ball and about half a dollar in diameter, could be tossed in the water and would last up to three months. Mr. Benedict said it's not clear from his records whether the treatment was actually completed or followed-up.
In the course of preparing other WNV-related articles, a number of individuals at GLACVCD and LBDHHS have told LBReport.com that stagnant water in untended swimming pools is among their biggest mosquito abatement problems, especially during the current West Nile Virus circumstances.
GLACVCD is the special district, a regional agency funded by a property tax parcel fee, that handles mosquito abatement in most of ELB.
LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services is the City Hall run agency charged with protecting public health throughout LB. LB is one of the few CA cities with its own city run public health agency.
LBReport.com has previously noted that ELB is filled with crows, a corvid bird highly susceptible to WNV, arguably setting the stage for a WNV "perfect storm."
WNV-infected mosquitoes bite crows, which become infected, and are subsequently bitten by new mosquitoes which become WNV-infected. People become infected when bitten by WNV-infected mosquitoes. Experts have indicated that areas in which crows are abundant have been especially hard hit by WNV.
ELB is represented by 5th district Councilmember Jackie Kell. As previously reported by LBReport.com, a number of 5th district residents have cited -- and LBReport.com has posted photographs of -- areas on city controlled property that have stagnant water, some of which appear to be related to broken and unrepaired city gutters and street intersections.
One East Long Beach homeowner, on San Anseline Ave. south of Wardlow Rd. who's tried without success to get Long Beach City Hall to fix a broken gutter that's blocking water from draining into a nearby storm drain, posted a sign offering a piece of his mind on the subject. The water ebbs and flows to some extent; the photos below were taken June 14.
Sign text: "Bev O'Neill/Jackie Kell, West Nile Breeding Pond, East Long Beach Wetlands, Brought to you by a Mayor and Council woman who doesn't care, No Fishing, No Swimming."
On the same day, a few blocks away on Chatwin Ave. north of Wardlow Rd, standing water stretched for the length of several houses. A tree appears to be pushing up the gutter, leaving standing water. The water also ebbs and flows at that location. Two photos taken on June 14 show what we observed, shot from opposite directions for perspective:
On June 16, LBReport.com reported standing water at the north intersection of Conant St. at Charlemagne Ave. has been nicknamed "Lake Charlecon." We stopped by and got these pix:
As we snapped these photos, a man came out of a nearby house, said he has family living here...and they've complained about the Conant/Charlemagne situation "for at least six to eight months."
The person whose email first alerted us to the Conant/Charlemagne situation said she emailed Councilwoman Jackie Kell...and received a June 9 email reply indicating the Councilwoman wants to have the area inspected as soon as possible.
On June 6, Tim Patton, an aide to Councilwoman Kell, said it appeared overwatering and/or broken or misaligned sprinkler heads accounted for much of the problem.
Later that night at the LB City Council's July 6 meeting -- the same day LBReport.com reported that LB's first WNV-infected mosquitoes were found in her district -- Councilwoman Kell told the Council during "new business" that she plans to ask city management at the July 13 Council meeting, describing measures being taken by City Hall and other agencies regarding WNV.
Recent LBReport.com coverage:
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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