Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019WA270B

The contribution of water retention, nutrient loading and microbial community to mosquito breeding and West Nile virus transmission in Spokane County

Institute: Washington
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $29,251 Total Non-Federal Funds: $58,502

Principal Investigators: Krisztian Magori

Abstract: Larvae of mosquitoes in the Culex genera, capable of transmitting West Nile virus (WNV) have been detected in catch basins and culverts in the last two years in Spokane County, indicating a regional problem related to water runoff, retention and nutrient loading. WNV is the most common pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes in the continental United States, causing thousands of cases and hundreds of fatalities annually in the US. While the virus was present in Washington State since 2005, increased numbers of cases were reported in both humans and horses in Spokane County since 2016. During the last four years, the EWU Disease Ecology lab collaborated with the Washington Department of Health (WADOH) and the Spokane Regional Health District (SRDH) as a surveillance partner. We trapped mosquitoes in association with catch basins and detected WNV in mosquitoes submitted to WADOH for testing. Here, we propose to expand our study to survey the public stormwater infrastructure across the City of Cheney and the City of Spokane, and characterize these potential and actual mosquito breeding sites. We will map (1) standing water; (2) mosquito larvae; and (3) WNV transmission in stormwater catch basins. In addition, we will characterize the stormwater infrastructure in terms of their water retention time, nutrient loading and microbial community. We hypothesize that catch basins and culverts that produce mosquitoes and represent WNV transmission risk will have relatively long water retention time, moderate to high nutrient levels, and a diverse microbial community, which will benefit mosquito larvae. The proposed project will combine faculty across two institutions (EWU and Gonzaga University) to share their expertise in disease ecology, water quality, as well as environmental microbiology, creating a truly interdisciplinary project. We seek funding to recruit, retain and train a graduate student, who will lead a team of undergraduate students to assist in the project. The results of this project will allow us to elucidate the complex relationship between aquatic chemistry, the microbial community, and mosquitoes, and potentially WNV transmission. Our project will also provide crucial information to WADOH, SRDH, and the City of Cheney and the City of Spokane to evaluate, prioritize and mitigate mosquito breeding sites and associated WNV transmission risk.