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Asian Tiger Mosquitoes, Capable of Carrying Diseases, Discovered Locally; Found In "Lucky Bamboo" Containers Imported From China Via Ports of LB and LA

(June 29, 2001) -- State health officials warn that an Asian mosquito known to carry infectious diseases in other parts of the world (though not documented here) has been discovered in the LB-LA area.

LB's Dept. of Health & Human Services said the blood sucking insect was initially found in cargo containers of "Lucky Bamboo" (an indoor ornamental plant) imported from China via the Ports of LA and LB.

The CA Dept. of Health Services said in many parts of the world, the Asian tiger mosquito "is a carrier of dengue, a viral disease that can cause headaches, joint and muscular pains and rash. It also can carry other infectious diseases, including yellow fever, LaCrosse encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis and dog heartworm."

It said the insect has not been associated with human disease in the U.S.

The state health agency said the mosquito breeds in small bodies of water, including containers, tires and tree holes, and bites during the day. Because it is a potential carrier of infectious diseases, state and local authorities are now investigating to determine whether the Asian tiger mosquito has become established in California and, if so, the extent of the infestation.

The CA Dept. of Health Services said "Lucky Bamboo" thrives in standing water and was historically shipped dry into the U.S. via airfreight, but about a year ago, supplies of bamboo began to arrive via ship because of increased demand.

It added that "to keep the bamboo green during shipment, the plants are placed in one to two inches of water, which provides a good habitat for mosquitoes."

An investigation by the Greater L.A. County Vector Control District at L.A. Harbor and at a wholesale nursery uncovered additional specimens of the mosquito. Local mosquito and vector control agencies and the CA Dept. of Health Services are conducting further surveillance and L.A. County's Vector Control District has implemented control measures at the wholesale nursery and L.A. Harbor.

State Health Director Diana Bonta, R.N. reminded residents to take the following precautions against mosquito bites:

  • Avoid activity outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.

  • When engaging in outdoor activities, wear long pants, long sleeve shirts and other protective clothing and apply insect repellant according to label instructions.

  • Keep infants indoors during peak mosquito hours. If outside, cover cribs, bassinets or playpens with suspended mosquito netting.

  • Identify and eliminate all sources of standing water around property that can support mosquito breeding.

    LB's city run Dept. of Health & Human Services said it is "working closely with the State, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture" and L.A. County vector control "to prevent the spread of these mosquitoes."

    The city agency said it provides "mosquito surveillance on a weekly basis by monitoring potential breeding sites for msquito habitation such as flood channels, pump stations, oil fields, ditches, canals, ponds and neighborhood gutters."

    LB residents with questions about mosquito control measures can contact LB's Dept. of Health & Human Services Department at (562) 570-4129.

    The Asian tiger mosquito has not previously been found in California, but was detected in Houston in 1985. The mosquito then spread eastward to the Atlantic Ocean and as far north as Iowa and is now in 25 states.

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