Wednesday, December 02, 2009

bugging out in melaque

Somewhere some modern Pharaoh (I suspect Hugo Chávez) is holding Chosen People captive.

My request: Let them go. My legs and arms can't take any more.

This past week we have had a visitation of mosquitoes.

No. Visitation is not the word. That sounds like respectable ladies in white gloves and haute couture hats making their rounds in The Hamptons.

Infestation is more like it. Genesis plague material.

My small fishing village by the sea has always had more than its share of biting-stinging insects. Every paradise comes equipped with its own serpent. The cost for admission in Melaque is the occasional bite from some unidentified bug.

Now that I have become a regular sea bather, a bite now and then was worth the joy of life by the sea.

But, as the Monty Python troupe would remind us: "And now for something different." Well, not so different. Just more.

This past week the mosquitoes have been out in force in their death squadrons. As if they know their wintery death draws nigh.

Monday night is a good example. I had dinner with a neighbor at an open-air restaurant near my new house. Due to bites earlier in the week, I slathered myself with DEET 100 -- the NOB variety unavailable in Mexico. The owner had also taken the precaution to set out coils of burning
citronella to ward off the mosquitoes.

It worked no better than the Maginot Line. The mosquitoes had their way with both of us. And I think it is the first time I have ever seen mosquitoes bold enough to land on food to rest. Maybe they have an undiscovered affinity for
quesadillas de camarón.

Even my house offers a great buffet for mosquitoes. Wherever I am, mosquitoes find me. Reading on the couch. Cooking dinner. In bed. Chicken pox could not look less attractive on me than my current collection of mosquito scars.

Mosquito bites heal. However, a portion of the mosquitoes around here belong to
Aedes aegypti -- pictured above. Easily identified by those white knees. Like some mini-skate board dude.

The name should sound familiar. We all heard it in grade school. It is the mosquito that almost stopped the Panama Canal. Its bite is not the problem. What it carries in its gut is. This is the prime carrier of yellow fever.

Thanks to William Gorgas, Walter Reed, and Carlos Finlay, we now have a vaccine to protect us from yellow fever. I recently had a booster.

Aedes aegypti carries another virus, as well -- dengue fever. Melaque is currently awash in dengue. In comes in four varieties -- the nastiest is a hemorrhagic variety with a high mortality rate.

The common variety, however, is usually not deadly. You just wish you could die. What you get is
fever, bladder problems, constant headaches, eye pain, severe dizziness, and a complete loss of appetite.

Oh, yes. When you move, the pain is so bad in your joints that it feels as if your bones are breaking. Thus, its common name: "bonebreak fever."

For me, concern over dengue fever is right up there with the fear of being eaten by piranha in my bath tub. But it would be a real pain to get it while I plan a trip to Oregon for Christmas.

So, wherever that Pharaoh is, I will put in my request, again: Let those people go -- wherever they are.

And just skip the plague of biting flies. We've already had them.


Anonymous said...

i feel your pain. mosquitoes and fleas love me.

i hope you stay well-it would defintely be a pain, literally, to get sick, especially while traveling.

the heat just came on even though it's not supposed to start till 4:00. i just checked the temp. and it's 33-brrrr! how about sending us some heat? well, at least we're having some beautiful sunny days. it's about time after a very soggy nov.

take care steve.


Islagringo said...

We are fortunate where we live that mosquitoes are not a problem. It is always too windy right by the water for them. They exist on the quieter, western side of the island though. Our plaque is the constant barrage of salt.

Christine said...

In the Blog "What do I do All Day" today there is mention of a patch that you put on your clothes to keep the mosquitoes away. worth a try?

Leah Flinn said...

I noticed an onslaught of mosquitoes upon my arrival in Veracruz airport. It seemed that they had definitely increased in numbers during my two week absence. Like you, mosquitoes always find me.

Babs said...

The city government comes by each house about every two to three months checking for any standing water. I presume that is where they lay their eggs.....yuk. We seldom have mosquitoes where I live because of the prevailing breezes and then winds....however, down in the centro they do have problems.
Hopefully they move on and dengue doesn't descend upon you.....

Calypso said...

Mi guapa esposa is just recovered from Dengue over here in Xico. Bone breaking aches and pains did abound - it was ugly.

Hard to know what to do. As you suggest there is little that repels those awful tiny monsters.

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Hi Steve,

Dengue is no laughing matter. The (revised) numbers of cases in Jalisco are very high!

The former Minister of Health in Guad never kept accurate numbers and lied about the extent of the problem. Now there is a new Minister and he has published the numbers. He has even gone personally to the neighborhoods where there are high incidences and knocked on doors and showed people how to dispose of standing water on their property. Lots of cases in Zapopan, Guad, and at the lake here.

Deet does work, citronella does not! I use Raid mosquito coils and it works well. They hate it.
Be very vigilant. I had it in utero, my mother almost died from it while pregnant in Honolulu.

Stay healthy!

Joe S. said...

Good news the CDC says that Denque is declining in Mexico. I feel perfectly safe!!! Of course you are my "Avatar" enjoying the life, taking the risks. I only risk computer viruses & of course what my patients bring in.

Anonymous said...

Fever, bladder problems, constant headaches, eye pain, severe dizziness, joint pain and complete loss of appetite.

Sounds like love to me.


Rick said...

Steve, you are spending a lot of time blogging about insects. It kinda makes ya think....

Leslie Limon said...

Mexican Trailrunner is right. Two of my hubby's uncles work at different hospitals in Guadalajara. They have expressed to the entire family to be very careful with those striped mosquitos. There are 2 to 3 times more cases of dengue than AH1N1 being treated in Jalisco.

The infestation should end soon with the onset of winter. :D

Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- We are still having marvelous hot weather. I will admit, though, when I went swimming at 6, I was chilly when I got out of the water. Oregon chilly.

Islagringo -- The house where I am moving in two weeks is in the center of mosquito country. I hope there is a big die-off before I move over there.

Christine -- I will take a look.

Leah -- I am hoping this is their last hurrah.

Babs -- The inspectors come around here even more often. But the biggest breeding ground here is the laguna -- and I am moving to it.

Calypso -- I guess we just learn to live with the little buggers. After all, we learn to live with politicians -- and they are far more noisome.

Mexican Trailrunner -- We are in the midst of a dengue epidemic here in Melaque. I just do not need it right now -- or ever.

Joe -- With the bites I have, if I avoid dengue this week, I should be home free.

ANM -- I thought the same thing. Along with the joint pain.

Rick -- We blog about what we see.

Leslie -- You are correct. And I do have the little white-kneed friends around here.