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Aggressive Asian Tiger Mosquito Found In El Monte

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An aggressive species of mosquito responsible for outbreaks of dengue virus in Florida, Hawaii and Texas has been found in El Monte, officials said Tuesday.

Asian tiger mosquitoes are aggressive biters and active during daylight hours, as well as at dusk and dawn, according to the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, the agency responsible for mosquito control in the area.

“Our goal is to eradicate this population,” said Kenn Fujioka, the district’s assistant manager. “We definitely do not want this mosquito to become established in our communities.”

The black-and-white striped insect, about a quarter-inch long, is a native of tropical and subtropical Southeast Asia and has not been seen in the San Gabriel Valley since 2001, when they were accidentally imported in shipments of plants called “Lucky Bamboo.”

The pest can transmit many serious diseases, including dengue fever, yellow fever; chikungunya, which is similar to dengue fever; encephalitis- causing viruses and the parasite responsible for heartworm in cats and dogs.

Eradication efforts are focused on an area about a quarter-mile around the infestation site in the 11000 block of Dodson Street, which includes a portion of El Monte High School. That area is bounded roughly by Bodger Street and Schmidt Road, and Peck Road and Paulson Avenue.

Vector Control District personnel were going door-to-door Tuesday in the affected area to alert residents.

Eradication efforts could begin as early as Friday. Officials said residents will get at least 24-hour notice of any fogging or other measures to kill the blood-suckers.

The mosquitoes lay eggs in water. Residents are advised to:

– dump standing water and store containers upside down;

– dispose of unused containers;

– dispose of old tires and other trash that could provide a pool for breeding;

– drill drain holes in the bottom of tire swings or other play equipment that could collect rainwater; and

– report the incidence of mosquito bites during daylight hours or any sightings of the insect to www.sgvmosquito.org.

“We need the public’s help on this one,” Fujioka said. “Anything holding even the smallest amount of water must be overturned and stored upside down.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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