Community on Alert for Asian Mosquito

Kelly Middleton came to Tuesday’s City Council meeting to issue a warning to the La Cañada Flintridge Community: Be on the lookout for bad guys.
Those bad guys — mosquitoes capable of transmitting painful, serious diseases such as dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and West Nile Virus to people, and heartworm to pets — have made themselves at home in Southern California in recent years. And they could move into LCF.
The taxpayer-funded Great Los Angeles Vector Control District is doing what it can to thwart the creatures, but residents must help, said Middleton, the organization’s director of community affairs.
Last year in LCF, Asian tiger mosquitos were detected in the neighborhood near Hillard Avenue and Fairmount Avenue. Vector control workers have been back this year to check and haven’t found any evidence that the Aedes albopictus family is still in town, but Middleton said a resident in the area has reported seeing one of the distinctively marked black-and-white mosquitos.
“So we’ll be going out and doing some more widespread hunting,” said Middleton, who said the organization will send mailers to nearby residents hoping to gain access to some of the lots in the neighborhood so they can expand their search.
“I can’t tell you strongly enough, once they’re in your yard, it’s extremely hard to get rid of them,” Middleton said. “And it’s so horrible to live with because they’re very aggressive biters.”
West Nile Virus also was detected in southeastern LCF last year, she said, reminding council members of the potential of hazards of contracting the disease: one in five persons infected with West Nile Virus will experience symptoms that include fever, headache, body ache, nausea and skin rashes.
About one in 150 people infected with the virus will become severely ill, and of those only 37% fully recover. Older people are the most vulnerable.
But the public can help protect itself by getting rid of standing water. “Tip and toss,” said Middleton, encouraging people to get rid of the bowls or buckets where mosquito eggs can remain for years, withstanding even drought.
“Think like a mosquito,” she said. “Walk around your yard and take a moment out of your day and look in all the small sources, under bushes, even something as small as a bottle cap.”
That goes for indoors, too, she said. Aedes mosquitoes will breed in vases or lucky bamboo plants.
“What do you do about dog bowls and water bowls outside for pets?” Councilwoman Terry Walker asked.
Middleton said that because it takes a week for a mosquito to hatch, those water bowls shouldn’t pose a problem as long as they’re cleaned every couple of days.
There have been no reports of locally contracted Zika Virus, she added.

TALKING HISTORY

City planners asked the council to advise them on what to do if they receive a request to demolish or significantly alter a historic home. But the City Council wasn’t ready Tuesday to officially define “historic,” or to create guidelines or an ordinance with which to treat such structures — especially after learning that about 5,500 of the 7,000 homes in LCF were built at least 50 years ago.
After the latest round of discussion on the matter, the council directed the subcommittee that has been meeting to discuss the issue to continue looking into the matter in hopes of nailing down a more specific description of what constitutes a historic home.
“At the very least, I think we should put together a plan on the criteria,” Walker said. “We want to educate homeowners. No matter what we decide, we need to take that step. People need to be informed if their homes are historical or not.”

STREET IMPROVEMENT PLANS

The city will be conducting a 10-week street- and sidewalk-repair project starting May 16, according to city Engineer Kris Markarian.
She offered the council a sketch of the work, which she described as 1½- inch grind and overlay in addition to curb, gutter and sidewalk repair, where needed.
The first affected streets, she said, will be the cul de sacs of Fairhurst Drive and Rock Castle Drive, followed by Lasheart Drive and Loma Vista Drive north of Foothill. The work will be conducted between May 31 and June 7, when the school district “is dark” after the end of the regular school year and before the start of summer school.
“We’re going to try to do the majority of the work here … well before they start summer school, to try to minimize any impact to the traffic circulation for pick-up and drop-off for the parents,” Markarian said.
From there, the project will move onto Verdugo Boulevard, between Foothill Boulevard and La Tour Way, said Markarian, who added that residents on those streets will be given a few days’ notice to prepare.

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