Paranoia or why generalizations are dangerous

I think it's safe to say that after the events of last week, we're all feeling a little bit rattled and a little bit unnerved.  So you will forgive me if I say that I was a tad bit frazzled when we had our second case of West Nile detection not 5 miles from my home.  Texas was the epicenter of the largest West Nile outbreak in the US last year, with almost 1,000 infections and 36 deaths.  The West Nile virus can trigger a central nervous system disaster, with cases of meningitis or encephalitis.

Or as my dad intonated to me, "You feel flu-like symptoms and you think you're okay.  You don't go to the hospital and then BAM!  You're dead.  There is no cure."

"Wear mosquito spray when you run outside," he added.

And left it at that.  I went around bug-eyed (no pun intended) for approximately 24 hours, staying mainly indoors, until I finally worked up the nerve to Mayo Clinic the West Nile virus.  Indeed, the symptoms are flu like, with 20% of people developing a mild infection with fever.  Less than 1% of people infected - let's put that in all caps, shall we - LESS THAN 1% OF PEOPLE INFECTED have the neurological infection that causes brain and spinal cord inflammation.  Further more, to quote Wikipedia:

"People of advanced age, the very young, or those with immunosuppression, either medically induced, such as those taking immunosupressive drugs, or due to a pre-existing medical condition such as HIV infection, are most susceptible."

I also fit none of those descriptions.

It's true that it's a good idea to wear bug spray when you go outside at dawn or dusk and not to prop the doors and windows without any kind of screen.  And if I do come down with a slight fever, coupled with some mosquito bites, I may go to the doctor just to be safe.  But not gathering the full facts and allowing myself to be scared by broad sweeping generalizations (which my dad tends to make a habit of doing) could have prevented me from enjoying a beautiful, mosquito-free Sunday afternoon around the lake.

Next time, I'm asking for the full story and 'just the facts, ma'am.'


  1. There's West Nile in AZ too. Another tip that I've learned is that if you go in when you display some symptoms it will be super helpful if it does turn into West Nile.

    And it helps that I know a meningitis survivor.

    7% Solution​

  2. Your Dad is funny. I don't think too much about West Nile although it usually appears around here at some point in the summer. I try to remember that if you are too cautious about everything you will have no fun. There are some times where that's harder to remember than others but it's something to aim for.

  3. A. I'm sorry I mentioned West Nile last year, and
    B. I thought I also mentioned it's not really a problem for healthy people. If I didn't...well, oops!!! :)

    I think I had it two (maybe 3 mow) years ago, when it wiped out the crows in our area. By the time it occurred to me that the fever, headache and stiffness might be WN, I started feeling better.

    I'm glad you're being careful without worrying too much.

  4. What?? I thought you were totally joking last week when you were talking about West Nile.

  5. It's just so much easier to go with the pervading panic .. .

    Your dad cracks me up!

    But do stay safe . . . even if you live to tell the tale, who wants to be miserable in the springtime? Exactly. :)

  6. My mom is exactly like your dad! Sigh...I guess they're just trying to make us paranoid to make us vigilant.

  7. As someone who is a magnet for mosquito bites, and who is also highly allergic (I get egg-sized welts that are bright red and burning hot), West Nile is on my list of Things I Think I'm Going to Contract. It's a long list, thanks to self-diagnosis on the internet, but yeah, West Nile is seriously scary biz. Wear lots of bug spray, misses!

  8. I don't think I have ever looked something medical up on the internet and felt better! You should win an award, you may be the first person ever :) Thanks to the internet I have had almost every possible disease known to man and woman just by looking up something really simple like "right toe feels numb," well that's fatal.

    So I do take all the hype with a grain of salt. But man those bird flus I can't help but feel the shadow of the grim reaper when they start talking about those animal flus killing of the worlds population.

    But just to be safe wear bug spray! But not one with deet ;)

  9. I had no idea about TX & West Nile?! This freaks me out a little as my BFFs dad is in the hospital with a fever that no one can trace the cause of. Ok, he's in Canada. BUT just got back from a holiday in Cuba and we all know mosquitoes rule in the Caribbean...

  10. Fear mongering is an easy trap to fall into, even when we're not talking about illnesses.

  11. WOW that's really scary Ruth! I hope that no matter what, you and your family are always safe - from all the elements.

  12. Ugh how terrifying! Mosquitoes are the worst!

  13. See? Any time you ask Dr. Google anything, it ends in death. Just be smart, mmmmkay?

    Lauren @ still + life

  14. Oh, I also suggest you *don't* follow FEMA on twitter. ;)

  15. I remember last year when my coworker found out she has Lyme's Disease I started FREAKING out. Every time I felt a tickle on me I was convinced a tick was on me and was going to give the disease to me.

    It definitely pays to do the research to know what to look out for. It almost always helps to calm you down.

  16. West Nile or no West Nile, I still think mosquitoes are something we would all be better off without. Yuck. I hate those things.

  17. lol, too funny. my mum does things like that all the time. you move to Berlin - you get killed. I think that was her best one :)


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