Dallas Is Having Its Worst West Nile Season Ever. So, Yes, You Can Start Worrying Now.

Categories: Healthcare

Thumbnail image for Mosquito West Nile.jpg
Kill as many of these suckers as you can by any means necessary.
I'm not, by nature, someone who spends much time worrying. I assume, more or less automatically, that I'm not going to contract that horrible disease, that ominous-looking strangers probably won't murder me, that there will be time to swerve when that 18-wheeler drifts into my lane. My wife says I worry too little, that a bit more fear would aid me in self-preservation, but I've always looked at it as more of an asset, something that allowed me to assess threats rationally.

The West Nile virus never particularly worried me. In my experience, the disease plays out in an annual ritual of media hype followed anticlimactically by a scattered handful of cases. It still doesn't worry me much even as the disease's toll this year mounts. The odds of contracting the most severe form of the disease remain very small. I wrote as much earlier this month. I wasn't claiming that West Nile doesn't sometimes manifest itself as a terrible, life-altering affliction or saying that people shouldn't take reasonable steps to protect themselves. My point was that people need not hyperventilate while doing so.

Then, three days later, someone died, then someone else, and I began looking less and less like a contrarian blogger tossing aside conventional wisdom that had grown stale, and more and more like a full-fledged asshole.

"Your hubris is appalling," wrote a commenter whose previously healthy 36-year-old husband was for months reduced to a helpless paraplegic and remains crippled after a bout with the disease. Just yesterday a public health guy with UT Southwestern called me. He was polite, but his meaning was clear: Don't you think it was a tad bit, you know, irresponsible to make light of what has become an epidemic?

I'm sticking to the idea that people shouldn't fret so much, but things are bad this year. Five people have died of West Nile already this year in Dallas County and 71 have developed the severe, neuroinvasive form of the disease. "We are unfortunately in the midst of the worst West Nile outbreak to have ever impacted our Dallas area," Wendy Chung, the county's chief epidemiologist, wrote in an email to me yesterday.

So here you go: You hereby have my permission to freak out. Just a little bit.

No one's sure why this year is so much worse than before. Weather patterns could be a contributing factor, Chung wrote, but it's a hard thing to pin down. The best way to cope with the outbreak is for people to take preventative measures like removing standing water, installing door and window screens, liberally applying insect repellent and generally avoiding mosquitoes like the plague. And keep doing those things for the next couple of months, since West Nile season typically peaks in August.

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30 comments
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

People who drink heavily are perfect targets for skeeters.

CocksuckerHat
CocksuckerHat

"I'm not, by nature, someone who spends much time worrying. I assume, more or less automatically, that I'm not going to contract that horrible disease, that ominous-looking strangers probably won't murder me, that there will be time to swerve when that 18-wheeler drifts into my lane. My wife says I worry too little, that a bit more fear would aid me in self-preservation"

 

Typical naive pollyanna libtard "progressive journalist"

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

It's real simple to explain why this year is worse.  The mildest Winter in memory, and a wet Spring/June.  Add to that the ever increasing population.  No mystery, no need to panic.  If you're getting bit by mosquitoes, come inside.

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

I AM NOT A FAN OF COUNTRY AND WESTERN...THUS, I PREFER THE "EAST NILE" VIRUS....CLEARLY MORE EDUCATED, SOPHISTOCATED, AND DELIVERED VIA UPS RATHER THAN FROM A SCAVENGING VAMPIRE BUG.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Hmm.... AIDS was ignored, then it became an epidemic.

J_A_
J_A_

West Nile or not, I've never had so many mosquito bites and I've lived here most of my life. It's bad this year, those fuckers are persistent.

InquiringMind
InquiringMind

5 people died, how many of the 71 with serious neuroinvasive forms recovery fully within a short period of time? Compare with 300 or so traffic fatalities each year in the metroplex? 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

not to be callous, but havent all 5 that died had underlying previous health issues compounded by west nile?  Im actually tired of everyone that works with me getting a headache and then saying "maybe I caught west nile"

Albert
Albert

Saddam's gift to the US?

Mervis
Mervis

@CocksuckerHat "Typical naive pollyanna libtard "progressive journalist" 

 

Things that sound bad but are not, Alex?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @Myrna.Minkoff-Katz stupid comment, AIDS was ignored bc it was considered a gay disease and  taboo.  West nile is on every TV and news radio program we have.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @JaniceA Mosquitoes don't seem particularly bad to me this year.  I work outside, and haven't noticed a great difference. 

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

 @ScottsMerkin YOU HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD.....THE SKY IS NOT FALLING ON EVERYONE WITH A MOSQUITO BITE....RABIES IS MORE DANGEROUS TO THE HEALTHY

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @ScottsMerkin I happened to have been around at its inception, and gay people ignored it as well.  Now who's stupid?

J_A_
J_A_

 @ScottsMerkin Is it time to give up these boards? I'm really contemplating.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

 @rufuslevin Rabies is far less prevalent than West Nile and and can be cured with a vaccine.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

 @Albert maybe they are just annoying fucks being stupid and regurgitating the shit they hear on the "panic" news

Albert
Albert

 @ScottsMerkin 

 

Yes I would, asshats are a lot more fun to be around than the Eeyore's

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