Zero Plus 357
The Living And The Dead
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent
GROUND ZERO, New York
City, September 4--They come quietly. You don't see
them at first. But you can hear them dance close to into
your ear, studying you, examining the sweet, succulent exposed
flesh of your body. They search for an entrance,
an exposed pore, a tiny well they can tap into with their surgical
needle-like proboscis that vacuums up your blood, and, in some
cases, leaves you with a potentially fatal disease.
In an era of human Terrorism, as
our guns point to the Middle East and our headlines saber-rattle with
threats of attacking human despots before they can forge nuclear weapons into
holocaustic spears that would suck the life out of all their enemies, the
mosquito flies undetected in our neighborhoods, stalking our children,
grandparents, our mothers and fathers, cousins, uncles, aunts, loved ones.
Nefariously, they attack the living through the dead.
Dr. James Hughes, a top official of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
in Atlanta, says organs transplanted from a donor have infected three
recipients with West Nile virus. A fourth victim is being studied,
and authorities believe she too was infected via a transplant.
Terrorism can be transpanted.
The donor apparently had West
Nile Virus (WNV), and passed it on through the transplants, the CDC said
However, since the recipients live in Georgia and Florida, two areas known
to be infected by the disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes,
conclusive evidence linking the donor and recipients can not be
guaranteed. The only known is the donor had it and the recipients had no signs of
it prior to the transplants.
According to the CDC "case count" reports for
(link to CDC page), 673 cases have been
reported resulting in 32 deaths so far this year. The first
case of human infection was recorded on August 2, 1999 in New York City. On September 14,
1999, a virus was isolated at the National Veterinary Services
Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, from the tissues of a crow from the New York
City area. This virus was later identified as West Nile Virus and
confirmed as the cause of the human encephalitis outbreak. (Ironically,
the Ames laboratory has been identified by the FBI as the source of the
anthrax sent throughout the U.S. mail post Nine Eleven.)
West Nile Virus was discovered
in 1937 in West Nile district of Uganda. It is a form of
Spread by mosquitoes, (Only the female is the predator.
She sucks blood to feed her eggs.) the disease usually causes a mild
inflammation of the brain, accompanied by fever, headache, body ache, skin
rash, and swollen lymph glands. It can, however, have deadly consequences.
What makes it dangerous is that until 1999
it didn't exist in the United States. Now, it is spreading from east
to west, alarming health officials and creating a new panic among
citizens. In 2000, the famous 840-acre New York Central Park was
temporarily closed after an infected mosquito was found.
West Nile Encephalitis is
one of a host of disturbing illnesses, such as AIDS, Ebola, hantaviruses
and Lyme disease, to emerge in the past 100 years.
It seems to be part of Nature's New
Terrorism, attacking with indiscriminate thirst those who appear ripe.
If one looks at the CDC maps of the spread of the
West Nile Virus in the United States, the virus is finding a
home in America, feeding off over 280 million Americans. Weekly, the
CDC monitors the advance of the disease state-by-state. All
indicators suggest WNV will become a future pervasive threat to American
health as it grows nationally, and the resulting deaths mount.
I'm not a personal fan of mosquitoes. In
Vietnam, they would cloud around my head on an ambush, forming a ball so
thick I couldn't see past them. And, in the quiet of the
jungle, one knew better than to slap at them and alert nearby enemy forces
American troops were close at hand. No matter how much
repellant I put on, they seemed to feast on me as though my blood was
caviar to them. I cringe when I hear one buzzing nearby, as I do
when I hear a low-flying aircraft hurtling through the sky.
As far as I'm concerned, the
mosquitoes should be included in the ranks of al-Qaeda, and our attention
directed toward them as much as toward any human threatening our country. Their ability to suck blood and inject
deadly viruses as host upon us moves them out of the noxious category into the
Toxic Terrorist arena.
They are a threat to the children, and to the children's children's
Two of the most vulnerable categories for diseases such
as WNV are the old and the young. The young are building their
immunities and defenses to disease, while the old are losing their
defenses. Both groups form critical targets for the deadly
nature of WNV.
As September 11 approaches, and the
"anniversary" of the Day of Terrorism looms to remind us all of
ugliness of human
violence, the WNV stalks us. Its presence is an exclamation point
that Vigilance is not something to be buried on Nine Eleven, and that
Terrorism comes in many forms far beyond a plane hurtling into the Twin
Towers, or the threat of a suicide bomber walking into a subway.
The WNV poses a far more
critical threat to our society than human Terrorists, for it attacks
in a subtle manner--as "just a mosquito bite," causing most of us to fall
Complacent to its potential deadliness.
But to those infected, and their loved
ones, the mosquito
has the face of Osama bin Laden. The suffering that results, including the
risk of death or brain damage, is as real as a bomb blasting in a
school yard, or the release of biochemicals in a Church or subway.
West Nile Virus is not the only form of
Insidious Terrorism that we need to pay attention to as Parents of Vigilance,
Citizens of Vigilance, Love Ones of Vigilance. There is
another mosquito sucking the blood of our children--McDonald's.
The Golden Arch company which touts itself as the
"family restaurant" has for years shoveled out billions of hamburgers and
fries that are full of fats, the kind that clog arteries, that turn
children into obese states, that produce heart attacks and dietary
deficiencies. Today, McDonald's announced it would
reduce some of the "killer fats" in its French fries by 16%. That
only leaves 84% to worry about. The headline in today's New York
Times barked: McDonald's New Recipe
Lowers Goo for Arteries.
(link to NY Times Story)
Terrorism doesn't exist just in the ashes
of Ground Zero. It is far more pervasive, like the points of a
compass, swinging about all 360 degrees. Our job as Citizens of
Vigilance is to be alert to its presence, intellectually as well as
instinctively. Whether it's locking the doors of a car or a
home, or keeping an eye on the kids playing, halting at a corner to make sure
cars aren't blasting through a red light before crossing--the world is
full of minor and major Terrorisms. It can come out of the blue
when a parent snaps at a child eager for attention and love, or via a
cold, prejudiced bigoted stare of another who doesn't fit our ethnic or
social status, or by a corporate officer seeking to feather his or her own
financial bed at the expense of the stockholders.
For any of us to shoulder the singular
responsibility of protecting ourselves and our children from them all the
"mosquito bites of Terrorism," is
virtual kindling for a nervous breakdown. It can lead us all
to paranoia, and then utter Complacency.
can sigh a deep breath of relief if we take a hard look at what's
happening on September 11, 2002. This is the day of
Vigilant Opportunity, the day when we all can take the Hand of Vigilance being
extended by those who died for us on Nine Eleven. If we look wisely
into the future, and to the reason for the events of September 11, we can
take a grip on the hands of the
Sentinels of Vigilance who stand above Ground Zero, whose spirits, I
believe, are guarding us and our children, and our children's children's
children from Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the Virus of Terrorism.
Our union with them
begins by taking the Pledge of Vigilance, putting it on our refrigerator or
posting it on the bathroom mirror, as a reminder that even a mosquito
doesn't slip by the watchful eyes of the Sentinels of Vigilance.
The Sentinels' presence is our daily recommitment to keep a Vigilant Eye
open to all threats, from without or within, that might mar our children's
right to happiness and both physical and emotional security.
While the Terrorists of Nine-Eleven may
appear in today's headlines to be the most dominant threat to our
children, who's to say that the West Nile Virus or McDonald's don't rank
on an equal footing? We might eventually kill Osama bin Laden,
but it is doubtful that we can kill every mosquito or change the hunger
our kids have for a Big Mac or Chicken McNuggets, with fries and a
milkshake. And, while Osama bin Laden might be eliminated from
earth, who's to say his clone, or one like him, isn't already plotting his
Anyone who feels impotent
about fighting Terrorism needs to take stock about what Terrorism
is all about. Simply put, Terrorism is that force
or forces that puts our children at peril. It comes in
the forms of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
Our jobs as Sentinels of
Vigilance is to chip away at Terrorism. One way is to
limit a child's intake of "junk food."
Another is to be wary of areas known to be infected with WNV.
We can protect our children with repellants and clothing from
viral mosquito bites, just as we control the ingestion of fatty
foods that smother rather than a spark a child's nutritional
On the emotional battlefields,
we can talk with our children about their Fears, their Intimidations,
and their Complacencies, and work at building up their inner
Courage, Conviction and ability to take Right Actions.
We can love them
a little more, show just a percent more interest in their thoughts,
dreams, ambitions. We can monitor our own behavior
to reduce injecting them with our prejudices, our bigotries,
and never fear sharing with them "what's right" even
though we may act in the "wrong."
On September 11, when we
listen to the news, or watch television, we can either see the
ground swallowing up all those who died that day and bury their
spirits, or, we can celebrate their presence and salute them
for standing vigil over our children. We can see them
as names etched on a wall reminding us that Terrorism victimizes
the innocent, or see them as standing proud above us, holding
up the Shield of Vigilance as a reminder to us that Courage
must percolate above Fear, that Conviction must overpower Intimidation,
and Right Actions must be taken to thwart the sense of Complacency
that we, with our little Voices, cannot be heard over the din
and clatter of those who are "supposed to protect us."
A mosquito may well
be the most dangerous Terrorist our children will face in the
future, followed closely by a hamburger and fries.
If we ask the Sentinels of Vigilance to help us keep a watchful
eye on our obligations to protect our children, and we band
together with other Citizens of Vigilance for the same purpose,
then the ceremonies of September 11 will be a reunion rather
than a wake. We won't be alone in our individual battles
with Terrorism. The Sentinels of Vigilance will become
our allies, our Mothers and Fathers of Vigilance.
So, on September 11, think
not of burying the memories of those who died for a powerful
reason that day one year ago. Think of resurrecting their
memories into a legion of Sentinels of Vigilance, bound
by a common Pledge that keeps a watchful eye on mosquitoes,
hamburgers and fries, and, oh, yes, the Osama bin Laden's of
link to maps of West Nile Virus spread in US
West Nile Case Count by state for 2002
West Nile prevention suggestions from CDC
Go To Sep 3--Chinese Baby Of Vigilance
Comes One Year After 9-11
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