May 27, 1995 in City

Sneezes, Skeeters Abundant

By The Spokesman-Review

There’s trouble in the air. Layers of tree and grass pollen are invading Spokane’s atmosphere.

Oh, and mosquitoes are worse than usual this spring, too.

Allergy clinics and doctors’ offices are buzzing with sneezy, drippy, watery patients hoping for relief. The irritants in the air won’t be clearing up any time soon, either.

In fact, they’re going to get much worse.

“Most people are allergic to grass pollen, and that’s just starting to kick in,” said Marti Tieken, a nurse at the Marycliff Allergy Clinic on the South Hill. “Next week is when it’ll really get going and it’ll be with us until September.”

Already the clinic is treating 40 or 50 allergy patients a day, Tieken said. Most pay upwards of $400 for a series of tests that tell them what they are allergic to. Then doctors can whip up an antigen and the patient can get relief with regular shots of it for at least three years.

Grass causes people the most problem this time of year, Tieken said. Kentucky bluegrass is a common nose tickler.

Trees can make people miserable, too. Last week ended the peak pollen period for pine and birch trees, two of the most common sources for allergies in the area. Another common irritant is mold, which has been minimized by the warm, dry weather lately, Tieken said.

“Every year, people always think it’s worse for allergies than it ever was before,” she said. “The truth is, it’s always bad.”

Mosquitoes are definitely worse this year than the last two, according to health officials. A wet spring has left pools of water in tires, potholes, wells, and buckets - all favorite breeding spots for the annoying insects.

“We’ve had a lot of calls about mosquitoes from people wanting to know how to get rid of them,” said Daryl Way, a manager at the Spokane County Health District. “They’re frustrating to people who want to be outside in the nice weather.”

Way said he’s also received calls from Spokane newcomers who lived in cities where regular spraying to kill the blood-suckers took place.

“Those people are appalled that Spokane doesn’t do any of that,” he said. “But it’s very expensive. And we’ve never had any diseases related to mosquitoes here.”

It wasn’t the insects that bugged dozens of residents who waited to see doctors on Friday. It was their noses.

“I can hardly breathe now,” said Susan Springer, holding a bundle of wadded up tissues at the Group Health office on North Maple. “I can hardly step outside and my eyes water up and I sneeze and sneeze and sneeze.”

Springer, 32, moved to south Spokane earlier this year from San Diego when her husband, a medical supply salesman, was transferred. She didn’t think her allergies would be worse here.

“I’m waiting to see a doctor, any doctor, to get myself cleared up,” Springer said. “I don’t care about what’s causing it at this point. I just want to breathe.”

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