Scientists in West Washington are rapidly trying to increase the number of sites that collect mosquitoes to spread to Western Testing the Nile Virus
The State Department of Health (DOH) confirmed the discovery of the virus in Tacoma mosquitoes on Tuesday ̵
KIRO7's Deedee Sun found that most West Washington counties do not monitor mosquitoes for the virus – and the state does not have the money to do all the work it has to do.
The DOH spent Wednesday spying new locations for traps for mosquitoes and finding new opportunities in Tacoma Metro Parks. (The DOH does not want to specify which parks so the traps will not be disturbed.)
Scroll down to continue reading
More KIRO 7 News
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE MESSAGES APP  Biologist David Kangiser with the DOH showed KIRO7 a trap full of mosquitoes from Thurston County
"There are 80 to 100 here, which is typical," Kangiser said.
After 16 years of surveillance in Pierce and Thurston Counties, it is the first time the DOH found West Nile-positive mosquitoes.
"My first reaction was, wow, Holy Cow," said Kangiser.
The traps that use the DOH set use dry ice or carbon dioxide.
"That's what attracts mosquitoes," Kangiser said. "It's what we exhale."
The traps are hung in the evening, collecting mosquitoes overnight and are brought back in the morning.
There is currently only one trap in Pierce County and three in Thurston County  "Does this mean that the number of tests taking place in western Washington needs to be expanded?" Asked KIRO7's Deedee Sun.
"Absolutely, just because we found it in one place does not mean it's not in more places, we just know it's in one place because that's where we found it," Kangiser said.
Kangiser said the DOH in Pierce County is adding four more traps this week.
But a big problem – the surveillance program of the state mosquitoes consists of only six people. And Kangiser says most of the local jurisdictions in West Washington do not have the resources to help.
"Much of the local funding has been cut over the years," he said. "They just do not have the means to keep up, so yes, it falls on us – our six-person crew," he said.
He says her team already processes half a million mosquitoes a year. There are 52 species of mosquitoes in Washington, but only two species can transmit West Nile, so each mosquito must be sorted by hand.
"It's a huge workload, and there are times when we feel overwhelmed," Kangiser said.
University of Washington researchers have some thoughts on why the West Nile appears so far west for the first time.
Dr. Cory Morin tracks mosquitoes and diseases and says the longer and warmer summers in Western Washington could play a role.
"Seasonality is likely to change so that the mosquitoes can last longer before they get too cold to survive," Morin said.
This gives mosquitoes more time to become infected, because the virus develops within the mosquito, and more means more favorable conditions for disease.
"For certain pathogens, they replicate faster in warmer temperatures, so if you have warmer temperatures you will have faster replication of the bacteria, including things like the West Nile virus, but also other diseases," Morin said ,
People enjoying nature in Tacoma call it a shame that West Nile is now something Western Washington has to worry about
being quite shocked, "said Emily Barker. Park, who will get a mosquito trap next week.
"To walk through the wet parts with the turtles and ducks is the best part. They do not want to be leached by huge pathogenic mosquitoes, "she said.
The DOH is now working to find out how widespread the virus is – but right now there are no traps or surveillance from King County, Snohomish County – or the Most Counties in Western Washington.
"There are huge surveillance gaps that we really need to address," Kangiser said, adding that the DOH will add traps for more mosquito testing districts next season.
At the moment, the state says that he is training people with the Pierce County Health Department to collect mosquitoes and asking the state government for more money  Kangiser also says there is a silver lining.
"The fact that we put it in the Having found mosquitoes before we found it in human cases in the state is a great scenario. Now we can have an early warning system, bring it to the public – hey, protect yourself, "he said.
Tips may include wearing long-sleeved trousers and pants and using an insect repellent with DEET Check the surroundings of your house for stagnant water, eg in gutters and bird baths.
More tips from the CDC here: https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/prevention/index.html
How to West Nile symptoms, the CDC says:
No symptoms in most people. Most people (eight out of ten) who are infected with the West Nile virus develop no symptoms.
Fever (fever) in some people. About 1 in 5 infected people develop a fever with other symptoms, such as headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash Most people with this type of West Nile V Irus is completely ill, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
Severe symptoms in a few people . About 1 in 150 infected people develop a severe central nervous system disorder, such as encephalitis (meningitis) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord).
© 2018 Cox Media Group.