September 4, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 357
Terrorist Mosquitoes Infect
The Living And The Dead

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       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 yesterday.   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 2002, (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 encephalitis  

 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 children.

       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.

          But we 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 revenge?

       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 engines.
       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 the world.


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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