Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Deadly Robins of Summer

After my last somewhat deranged post I decided that the time had come to chillout. Or more correctly head out to my bunker in the countryside and broil there instead of in the city. Try to get away from the real wars, blogging wars, and all the other threats that seem to be everywhere these days. Before I join a whole bunch of others out there and go completely off my rocker. Eh? Uh?

But as I walked through the sweltering woods late this afternoon I came across another threat that scares me more than all of the above. The potentially lethal combination of lots of mosquitoes and robins.

Thanks to our mild winter the mosquito squadrons that carry West Nile fever are expected to be more numerous than ever. And our hot summer will make them even more dangerous.

But what I'm worried about is the number of Robins. The little red chested birds are everywhere. I've never seen so many.

For a long time scientists didn't understand why most people got infected late in the summer, even though the mosquitoes that spread West Nile had been buzzing around for a while. Then they decided to open up the mosquitos teeny weeny stomachs and find out whose blood they had been drinking. And they discovered that topping the menu was the American Robin.

It turns out that in early summer the mosquitoes prefer to feed on robins and their young, more than any other birds even sparrows. Which suits the West Nile virus just fine. The robins don't die when they're infected and they are not a dead end for the virus like humans are. So they can keep on spreading the virus to one mosquito after the other. Until the robins disperse after breeding. And the mosquitoes start feeding on us.

So my question is (drumroll)..... If there are a lot of mosquitoes and a lot of robins does that mean we're going to have a lot of cases of West Nile fever?

I don't know why I've started worrying about West Nile fever now. Maybe it's the polio-like fever that can hit healthy young adults that gives me the shivers. Or maybe it's because of the 235 cases of West Nile last year almost half of them (106) were in Ontario.

Or maybe the robin connection somehow triggered an old childhood memory. The ancient English nursery rhyme my parents used to read to me when I was a child. A poem called Who killed Cock Robin?

"Who killed Cock Robin?

I said the sparrow , with my bow and arrow...

Who saw him die? I said the fly.

With my little eye, I saw him die.

Who caught his blood? I said the fish.

With my little dish, I caught his blood..."

Of all the nursery rhymes I ever heard that was the most disturbing one. I was haunted as a child not only by the ghoulish lyrics but by the burning question. Why did sparrow kill Cock Robin in the first place?

So robins and sudden death have always been linked in my mind. Except now it's just a lot more real. Now not only can sparrows help kill you ,or worse. Robins can too.

Or maybe it's just that I hate the smell of those DEET products so much. What's the use of showering and putting on deodorant to impress your squeeze. If you are going to end up smelling like that? I've always resisted putting it on. But now I really can't.

None of us should take any chances. We need to know all we can about West Nile.

And we do need to slap on that stinky stuff. It's better to smell awful than dead. And your lovers won't mind, or can't complain. Unless you're wearing shorts and it runs up your leg. Because they'll be as stinky as you.

Hey what can I say? Sometimes it's not easy to be a Canadian...

Have a great weekend everyone!


Anonymous said...

Simon, I liked your last post, beautifully written, and so very true.I didn't find it deranged in the least. "Christians" deserve every contempt we can hurl back in their direction. Karma's a bitch. Their attacks and bullshit about us are completely unprovoked and I'm sick of it. The day they start practicing what they preach and leave us the hell alone, is the day we should stop countering the crap they spew.

Simon said...

Thanks Tim. It's funny I just finished writing a comment in my previous post after reading what you had to say. Which was excellent by the way.I didn't hate my last post, I did say it was only somewhat deranged. But I didn't really like it maybe because it was too much of a personal attack. But don't worry. Summer may be making me a bit of a softy. And I just found out that I'm shipping out next week. So my thoughts are all over the place. But by the time the fall rolls around, and the SSM battle starts I'll be ready and in fighting trim.And ready to give the wingnuts hell! You can ask all my friends Tim. Anything less and it wouldn't be me ;>)