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    News in Depth

    Ground Zero For West Nile Virus: See Maps Showing WNV Totals & Recent WNV-Infected Dead Birds

    (June 20, 2004) -- posts below maps reflecting data as of June 18 from the CA Dept. of Health Services West Nile Virus (

    West Nile Virus map 6/18

    On the two maps below, the purple X's indicate dead birds (mainly crows) infected with the mosquito-borne WNV.

    The X in ELB indicates LB's first WNV-infected dead bird (an American crow), recovered June 7 on Rutgers Ave., west of Bellflower Blvd., east of Clark Ave., south of Wardlow Rd. and north of Spring St.

    WNV Map 6/18

    We zoom in for a tigher view below:

    WNV map, 6/18 has received emails from a number of readers indicating that they have spotted (and reported) dead birds in the LB area.

    A reader in Cerritos -- a city which has reported one of the highest totals of WNV infected birds in L.A. County to date -- said he has seen several dead birds near his Cerritos home...and his children have spotted dead birds on their way to school.

    As previously reported by, Dr. William Reisen, Research Entomologist and Director in Residence, Mosquito & Arbovirus Ecology, Davis Arbovirus Research Unit told a 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." He 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."

    People (and birds and horses) get infected with WNV when bitten by infected mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes bite crows and other corvid birds (which can travel considerable distances), and new mosquitoes then bite the infected birds and spread WNV further.

    Vector control mapIn about half of LB (greyish 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.

    The eastern half of LB, plus parts of NLB, WLB, scattered chunks and Signal Hill (all yellow on map) are within the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District (GLACVCD). It's not a County body but a "special district" (a separate layer of government) which is 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 Mosquito Abatement District.]

    (Map is courtesy LBDHHS; mosquito icons on the map indicate mosquito surveillance trap sites; chicken icons indicate "sentinel chicken" sites (chickens routinely tested for WNV); crow icon on Studebaker Rd. near 405 fwy indicates a dead crow, data as of May 28/04).

    LBDHHS and GLACVCD treat standing water and other mosquito breeding sources (storm drains are a big problem) with larvaecides and other items...and handle countless flood control channels, storm drains and street gutters as well as the unseen network of underground storm drains stretching for miles.

    LB's Dept. of Public Health's Environmental Services Bureau told us that they have roughly five people in the field, five days a week, to handle their half of LB.

    The GLACVCD says it has roughly thirty people in the field to handle the southern half of the district which includes Eastern Long Beach and part of NLB, plus Lakewood, Cerritos, Signal Hill, Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia, Downey, Carson, South Gate, Diamond Bar, Bell, Downey, Los Angeles City, San Marino, Bellflower, Gardena, eastern Los Angeles Co., Bell Gardens, Glendale, Lynwood, Santa Fe Springs, Burbank, Maywood, Huntington Park, Montebello, South El Monte, La Habra Heights, Norwalk, Commerce, Paramount, Whittier, Cudahy, La Mirada and Pico Rivera.

    The Greater L.A. County Vector Control District reports the following data on June 18 (apparently from its area alone, mainly eastern L.A. County):

    Cities with West Nile Virus Positive Birds

      City Number of Birds
    1 Whittier 23
    2 La Mirada 16
    3 Cerritos 13
    4 Downey 12
    5 Pico Rivera 9
    6 Santa Fe Springs 8
    7 Hacienda Heights 7
    8 Norwalk 4
    9 South El Monte 3
    10 North Hills 3
    11 Montebello 2
    12 Gardena 1
    13 Lakewood 1
    14 Bell Gardens 1
    15 Reseda 1
    16 Harbor City 1
    17 Long Beach 1
    18 San Marino 1
    19 Northridge 1
      Total 108

    For the week ending June 18, the CA Dept. of Health Services reported 97 dead American crows tested positive for WNV from the Counties of San Bernardino (40), Los Angeles (40), and Riverside (17) on June 17. A total of 128 bird carcasses were tested from these three counties accounting for 75.8% positive results (97/128).

    Various government health agencies have indicated that most healthy people bitten by mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus (WNV) won't get sick although some may develop "flu like symptoms." However, an estimated 1 in 150 people bitten by WNV-infected mosquitoes may get seriously ill, which could include encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) requiring hospitalization. And of those 1 in 150, about 1-1.5 in 10 (i.e. roughly 1-1.5 in a 1,000 overall) may die. There is no cure, only supportive care. Those at greatest risk include the elderly, very young and those with weakened immune systems.

    When bitten by WNV infected mosquitoes, people (and birds and horses) get infected. Mosquitoes breed in standing water...and government agencies have urged the public to eliminate any sources of standing water on their property and take other precautions:

    LB Health Officer Dr. Darryl Sexton said in a written release issued June 18:

    "I want to emphasize that the overall risk of serious illness to humans from WNV is low. Most individuals who are infected with WNV may not experience any illness. Approximately 10 to 15 percent of infected individuals will have only mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever, headache and body aches. Less than one percent of individuals will develop serious neurological illnesses such as encephalitis and meningitis. However, the elderly, the very young and those with lowered immune systems are more susceptible to serious illness and should take extra precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."

    In its release, LB's Dept. of Health and Human Services recommended that residents take the following precautions:

  • Clean up any pools of standing, stagnant water that can provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as WNV... Recommendations for keeping mosquitoes under control on resident’s personal property are as follows:
  • Dispose of anything that can hold standing water such as tin cans, discarded tires, and plastic containers.
  • Drain or fill low spots in the ground and drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers to prevent moisture from collecting.
  • Change water in birdbaths, decorative fountains and pet feeding bowls often.
  • Clean clogged roof gutters regularly.
  • Sweep standing water in gutters. [ note: Do NOT sweep any gutter debris, leaves, twigs or potential blockages into storm drains!]
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools regularly.
  • Residents should avoid mosquito-infested areas at dawn or dusk, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, ensure all operable windows are screened, and use insect repellent products with between 10-50 percent DEET for adults and between 10-30 percent for children. Typically, higher concentrations provide longer protection. Residents should follow instructions on the label.

    Businesses are also urged to check their property weekly and to eliminate any standing or stagnant water and to maintain swimming pools to summertime conditions. Green or dirty pools can breed thousands of mosquitoes in a week’s time, unnecessarily increasing the population’s risk of contracting WNV.

    The DHHS is also requesting residents to cooperate by reporting any dead birds to 1-877-WNV-BIRD. Dead birds, especially crows, may be an early indication of WNV activity. Working together, the DHHS and Long Beach Residents can break the mosquito life cycle and minimize the risk of mosquito-borne illness such as WNV.

    If you have any questions regarding mosquito control measures in the City of Long Beach, please contact the DHHS’ Vector Control Program at (562) 570-4132 or go to the DHHS’ website at Further information may be obtained at the State of California Department of Health Services website at, or at the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at

  • For a good summary of how mosquitoes breed, see Greater L.A. County Vector Control District mosquito information page.

    In text on its web page, the District recommends the following:

    What you can do to eliminate mosquitoes

    You can help eliminate mosquitoes by removing stagnant water from these common backyard sources:

    • Clogged rain gutter
    • Neglected or out-of-order swimming pool, hot tub, pond, or fountain
    • Containers such as rain barrels, cans, buckets, jars, flower pots, etc.
    • Old tires
    • Anything that will hold water for more than seven day.

    The District's web site says it prevents and controls mosquitoes as follows:

    The District uses Integrated Mosquito Management (IMM): This is a sustainable approach to managing mosquitoes by combining biological, physical, and chemical control, which minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks.

  • Biological control: Mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) are used in a variety of mosquito breeding situations where chemical treatment may be ineffective and source reduction infeasible. The District provides free mosquitofish to District residents for placement on their property only.
  • Physical control: Physically managed sources are less conducive to mosquito development. Improving these sites by employing mechanical controls, such as removing excess vegetation and debris, allows water to flow, decreasing mosquito breeding.
  • Chemical control: When feasible, non-chemical control methods are preferred and used. The application of extremely low-risk, environmentally sensitive, host specific materials are used to control mosquitoes. Two types of materials are used: 1) larvicides, which target the aquatic immature or larval/pupal stages of these insects, and 2) adulticides, aimed at killing mosquito adults. The District focuses on preventing adult mosquitoes and therefore mainly applies larvicides that act to suffocate, prevent growth, or interfere with molting of the larvae.
  • As for personal protection against mosquitoes, the Greater L.A. County Vector Control District web site says:

    • AVOID ACTIVITY IN THIS AREA between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
    • APPLY MOSQUITO REPELLENT containing the active ingredient DEET when outside.
    • WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING (loose, light colored, long sleeve shirts and pants.)
    • MOSQUITO-PROOF YOUR HOME with tight fitting screens on doors and windows. Use mosquito netting when sleeping outdoors or in an unscreened structure and to protect small babies when outdoors.
    • ELIMINATE STANDING WATER around your property.

    Recent coverage:

  • It's Here: Dead Crow w/ West Nile Virus ID'd in LB; Residents Again Urged to Take Precautions

  • ELB Email to 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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