I wasn’t sure how to say this before. Last year, I posted a thread about The question of travelers’ diseases - General - iNaturalist Community Forum. What I didn’t say was that these are a fascination of mine.
Eleven years ago, in Namibia, I got sick and was hospitalized. Whatever it was must have been bacterial, because erythromycin worked. Afterward, I really wanted to know what I had been sick with. Since no culturing of the pathogen had been done at the time, there was no way to know for sure; but based on the suite of symptoms and how I got infected, I concluded that probably it was a virulent strain of Escherichia coli.
I was so disappointed. E. coli has a worldwide distribution. If I had to get that sick in Africa, and suffer that much, why couldn’t it at least be something distinctively African?
I was completely unaware of iNaturalist then, as you can see from the gap between the “observed” and “submitted” dates on my Namibia obsservations. But even back then, I actually thought of infectious diseases in terms of my life list. E. coli seemed like such a boring organism to encounter compared with, say, Rift Valley fever. So far, my only virus observation is of Firstpapillomavirinae, the boring ol’ common wart, and even that can’t be identified past familt because no test was done to identify which specific papillomavirus it was.
One reason that there are currently 258 observations of SARS-CoV-2, most of them Research Grade, is that people were being specifically tested for that taxon; whereas there are only 3 Verifiable observations of Influenza A (one of which was detected together with SARS-CoV-2 in concurrent testing), and only 5 of Rhinovirus, all marked Casual, because people with the flu or a cold are not usually tested for the specific viral taxon.
So, yeah, while I don’t go looking to get sick (who in their right mind would?), when it does happen, I’m always frustrated not to be tested for the specific pathogen. What a wasted opportunity to add to my iNat life list! If I have to suffer, I’d like to at least have an observation to show for it! That isn’t quite as important with globally widespread taxa like Influenza A; but if I ever contract something exotic, I want to be able to add it.
Can anyone relate? Does a dangerous side of nature hold a particular fascination for you?