The County Board of Supervisors Tuesday gave cities in the San Gabriel Valley until Oct. 31 to agree to create a mosquito abatement district that would pay for mosquito control services now funded by the county.
Bob Gates, director of the county Department of Health Services, proposed withdrawing $296,000 in county funding for mosquito control programs July 1 to save money.
But on a motion by Supervisor Deane Dana, the board voted 3 to 0 to give more than 25 cities in the valley until Oct. 31 to agree to join a district, and until the summer of 1988 to actually create the new district.
If the cities meet the Oct. 31 deadline, the county will pay half the cost of mosquito-control in each city until next summer. If they fail to meet the deadline, county funds will be withdrawn.
During the changeover period, the board authorized spending $400,000 to protect the cities. Most of the funds are earmarked for the San Gabriel Valley, but some will go to about a dozen cities in the South Bay and a few in the Southeast area. Those cities have been ordered to join a nearby district by Oct. 31.
The funds are used to reduce populations of potentially infected mosquitoes that can pass the lethal St. Louis encephalitis virus to humans. Cities that have not joined a district by the county's deadlines will be left without protection, county officials said.
Dana said the San Gabriel Valley cities are being treated differently because they have to form a new valley-wide district, which "could take some time."
Since 1984, when a surprise outbreak of the mosquito-borne St. Louis encephalitis virus infected 16 people in the county, killing one and contributing to the deaths of two others, the county Department of Health Services has paid the bill for controlling mosquitoes in non-member cities.
County officials said many cities have been reluctant to join a district because, before the 1984 outbreak, only a handful of mosquito-borne encephalitis cases had been reported in the county.