Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District
On February 18, 1999, the 1998-1999 Sacramento County Grand Jury toured the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District (SYMVCD), located at 8631 Bond Road, Elk Grove. The Grand Jury coordinated the tour with the Yolo County Grand Jury since the District has jurisdiction in both counties. Both juries were given a detailed briefing of the District's responsibilities.
The SYMVCD was established in 1946 by a vote of Yolo and Sacramento County residents. In the late 1940s the area was plagued with mosquito-borne encephalitis as well as other illnesses. Since the District at the time served 20 to 40 square kilometers of rice fields, it was decided an integrated approach would benefit both counties. This approach also made sense as significant numbers of mosquitoes breed in Yolo County but travel by prevailing winds eastward to Sacramento County.
The SYMVCD staff stated that in the District's early years the pesticide of preference was dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT). After the revelation of the damages wrought to humans and the environment by DDT, the District began to experiment with other environmentally acceptable control measures. The current primary control of choice is the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis-israelensis (BTI). In addition to BTI, the District also uses mosquito fish raised in its own ponds in the control of mosquitoes. Over 3,000 pounds of mosquito fish are planted each year in the 30,000 to 50,000 acres of potential mosquito-breeding habitat. The fish feast on the mosquito larvae found principally in weedy shoreline areas throughout Sacramento and Yolo counties.
Other diseases are carried by mosquitoes to both humans and dogs. For example, dogs may contract heartworm from the western treehole mosquito. Other types of disease-carrying mosquitoes breed and mature in rice fields, wetlands, duck clubs, backyard tire swings and anywhere standing water collects.
The Grand Jury asked the staff about the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) via mosquito bites. The staff indicated that studies show that when a mosquito bites a person, it does not inject its own or any other person's blood into the new victim. It is important to note that HIV lives only a short time inside the mosquito and, being very fragile, lives only a short time outside the human body.
Another insect the SYMVCD seeks to control is the yellowjacket. Although yellowjackets are generally considered more of a pest than a health hazard, they can, if disturbed, attack and be deadly to people hypersensitive to yellowjacket venom.
The Grand Jury was told that the District has 50 employees and a $4.8 million budget. Average annual expenditure for mosquito and vector control is $3.75 per resident. The Grand Jury noted that the District complex includes several fishery ponds, a well-equipped laboratory, and spacious administrative and control operations offices. The District also has a control operation facility located in Woodland, Yolo County.
The SYMVCD has an active education program and frequently goes to schools and attends local events to educate students and residents about mosquitoes and other vectors.
Findings and Recommendations
Finding #1: This is a quality special district facility in south Sacramento County, an asset that should be an available to the entire community. It appeared to the Grand Jury that there is capacity to provide community groups or other public agencies with use of the meeting rooms for purposes other than exclusive SYMVCD use.
Recommendation #1: The District should communicate the availability of its facility meeting rooms to community groups and other public agencies.
Finding #2: District vehicle maintenance is performed on-site by three employees in a well-equipped repair facility located adjacent to the administration building. It appeared to the Grand Jury that the facility is underutilized.
Recommendation #2: SYMVCD should consider contracting to perform light vehicle maintenance for other governmental agencies.
Finding #3: At the time of its visit, the Grand Jury found that the SYMVCD was developing its own Web site. The address given was www.vectorcontrol.net/symvcd/
Recommendation #3: In order to facilitate easy access to the site, it should be linked to both counties' home pages. This would allow residents to become more familiar with the services offered by SYMVCD.
Finding #4: The funding mechanism for SYMVCD is based upon local property taxes. Both counties have experienced significant growth over the last several years and the amount of funds available has increased dramatically. While funds have increased, growth and urban sprawl have decreased farmland and wetlands, thus reducing the primary mosquito habitats. The Grand Jury believes this is a critical issue that requires a careful cost analysis.
Recommendation # 4: The SYMVCD shall complete a comprehensive report and submit it to the Grand Jury outlining the projected increases in revenues that are expected over the next five years. The report shall also address projected expenditures over the same period. In addition, SYMVCD shall attach the last three annual audits, which will provide the necessary historical perspective. The SYMVCD board of directors should use this information as a tool to address the fiscal necessity of current funding levels.
A Response is Required
The California Penal Code requires the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District to respond to the recommendations contained in this report and to submit its responses to the presiding judge of the Sacramento Superior Court by September 30, 1999.