Sunday, August 7, 2011

Truth, rumors and mosquito screens

Mosquito sculpture in  Komara, Manitoba. Photo by James Sapara/Flickr

Mosquiteras were installed this week to keep out the moscos. Window screens for the mosquitoes, that is. Their Spanish nicknames are so charming, aren't they?

My first couple of trips to Mérida I was fooled. We didn't encounter any at all. Tom read something about mosquitoes but I thought it was a vicious rumor. It was the dry season, and I didn't know that made any difference.

I am from Manitoba, Winnipeg to be specific, and I still sorely miss some things about that place, decades after moving away. Wonderful aunts and uncles and cousins, the skyline, the way fields of flax in bloom look just like water. Summers on the farm and at Delta Beach (you might have seen it in recent coverage of the Manitoba floods). I miss the openness of prairie people. I do not miss the cold winters. Perhaps in reaction to it, my adult life has been a migration to progressively warmer climes. I thought I left the mosquitoes back on the prairies as well.

By the time I discovered the truth about mosquitoes in Mérida I was too far along for it to be a deal-breaker. Perhaps it's kind of like discovering too late that your novia is a chronic snorer (sorry, Tom).

Mosquitoes in Mérida aren't big like the ones in Manitoba (see photo). I'm not sure they can possibly be as numerous, though some fellow bloggers certainly have stories. They can carry disease, and in Merida the concern has been about dengue fever.

The government works hard to prevent it. City employees hunt down sources of stagnant water at homes and businesses, pouring chemicals into drains. Dengue cases in Mérida are fairly rare, but it's a reality. I know one person who had it, long ago. It is also known as breakbone fever, apparently because that's what it feels like. If you get it repeatedly, the possibility increases of getting the haemorrhagic form, which can be fatal. (Check official sources such as the WHO or CDC for reliable information; I'm just repeating what I've picked up along the way).

Life is risk. We have our insect-borne diseases in Canada as well. But it seemed important to minimize the risk to ourselves and our guests, as well as avoiding the discomfort of getting itchy bites all over. I figure the screens and one of those electric swatters that the street vendors sell on the traffic medians should pretty well cover it. We still lack some basic things like a full set of dishes to eat on, but with the mosquiteras installed, I feel like our place is finally fit for company.