The other day I was talking to a friend from out of state, and the subject of North Texas’ West Nile troubles came up. Based on all the national publicity, my friend thought that our streets were littered with bodies and DEET-soaked vigilantes sat in their barricaded houses with rifles cocked, ready to pick off anyone who might be a giant infected mosquito in disguise.
Certainly, West Nile isn’t funny to people who’ve lost a loved one to it or suffered its most severe effects as an illness. But it’s inducing a level of paranoia in the locals that’s probably greater than the actual threat, and large numbers of people freaked out over terrible possibilities is never a good thing. This especially gruesome scene from the 1995 B-movie Mosquito nicely captures a lot of people’s paranoia about what getting bit by a skeeter means these days. Just don’t tell your friends that, according to the Weekly, one symptom of West Nile is exploding eyeballs. We don’t want to turn a public health scare into a street riot.