Are We Overreacting To The EEE Mosquito Threat?
“Hurry up! Get in the house,” I bark at my kids as they get out of the car. “Quick! Before a mosquito gets you!” My kids must think mosquitoes are like the bogeyman. It’s hard to remember when exactly we got here. When we were kids, we had to come home when the street lights came on. When out kids are grown up, they’ll think back and remember our stern warnings about getting inside before the mosquitoes attacked.
West Nile Virus and EEE are unnerving for a couple of different reasons. Let’s start with the names. EEE stands for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. Weird. Something horse-like that includes swelling of the brain. Scary. West Nile Virus. Sounds like a foreign, mysterious illness from another land. A land where mosquitoes rule.
Secondly, the fact that it’s spread by blood sucking mosquitoes is creepy. Things that were always annoying, yet harmless, have suddenly become potentially deadly. It’s like the mosquitoes revenge for the bug zappers.
I was at the ORR/Bishop Stang high school football game Friday night. Instead of kicking a game tying extra point, Stang decided to go for 2 after scoring a touchdown with less than 30 seconds left in regulation. I didn’t get a chance to ask the Stang coach this question, but I swear mosquitoes may have influenced his decision. Even after moving the “Friday Night Lights” kickoff to 4:30 in the afternoon, dusk was approaching, and so was the curfew laid down by Mattapoisett’s Board of Health. When mosquitoes are affecting high school football strategy in America, they have won.
As my wife was bathing the kids in DEET bug spray last night, one our middle aged neighbors was teasing us. “You guys are overreacting,” he laughed. “The media is hyping this thing up. There are accidents on 195 all the time, but we don’t shut down the roads. People still drive on them every single day,” he said. “You better not let those kids get in a car. They have a better chance of getting in a car accident than getting bit by a EEE mosquito.”
Is he right? Are we overreacting to the mosquito threat? All I know is the EEE threat in my community is at a “critical” level. Critical! As parents, I think taking it lightly would be pretty irresponsible. Am I wrong?