Health officials announced today that for the first time in nearly a decade, there had been no cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) reported in Long Beach in 2018. The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services’ (Health Department) Vector Control and Public Health Emergency Management (PHEM) programs work closely to coordinate efforts around mosquito control by focusing on mosquito abatement along with education and outreach.
“It is extremely rare to see zero cases of West Nile virus in a city,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “This was without a doubt the result of City staff and our community working together to protect and fight against mosquito-borne diseases and infestation.”
WNV first appeared in Southern California in 2003 and in Long Beach in 2004. Long Beach has documented human cases of WNV almost every year since it arrived. Last year, Long Beach experienced 15 human cases, and in 2016 there were 53 human cases.
“While the number of WNV cases in Long Beach is influenced by factors such as weather and environmental changes, it is also important that all those in our communities understand their role. Our Health Department’s approach includes mosquito control, education, and prevention to empower residents to protect themselves,” said Kelly Colopy, Director of Health and Human Services.
WNV is transmitted through the bite of an infected Culex mosquito and can cause fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache. Most people infected have no symptoms. Approximately one in 150 may develop a more serious disease, such as brain inflammation or paralysis, and on rare occasions, illness can lead to death.
“Involving our residents is essential when addressing mosquito-borne diseases. We’ve seen general mosquito awareness increase in Long Beach over the past year,” said Nelson Kerr, Manager of the Environmental Health Bureau. “This increased awareness helps in eliminating breeding sources in backyards and provides us with valuable information on public breeding areas as well.”
In addition to monitoring and treating mosquitoes in public areas daily, the Health Department works diligently year-round to educate residents on how to protect themselves from mosquitoes, report mosquito breeding, and take action against mosquito infestation around their home. The Health Department participates in numerous community outreach events, and PHEM has a hotline (562.570.7907) and online reporting system by which residents can report mosquito cases and receive education and prevention tips on how to eliminate breeding sites and prevent mosquito bites. PHEM has the capability to map the calls and online reports and share the information with Vector Control to assist in locating problem areas. In 2018, there were over 1,200 hotline and online reports from Long Beach residents. While much of these efforts were directed at controlling the Aedes mosquitoes, which are capable of transmitting Zika virus, they also helped prevent other mosquito-borne diseases like WNV as well.
For more information on how to protect from mosquito bites, the community can visit www.longbeach.gov/mosquitoes, or call the Mosquito Hotline at 562.570.7907.
Inside LB, the City of Long Beach’s official blog, recently published a story on Long Beach’s Vector Control team and the work that they do keeping the public safe through mosquito abatement and more. The full story is available at http://bit.ly/2BXavNK.
About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 470,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 171 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.
About Long Beach Department of Health and Human ServicesThe mission of the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is to improve quality of life by promoting a safe and healthy community in which to live, work and play. Long Beach Health is one of only three city-run health departments in California, which allows for better engagement with residents, neighborhoods, businesses and community partners, and fosters a greater understanding of the City's strengths. For more information, visit us at www.longbeach.gov/health, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.