Fascination with a dangerous side of nature

I can understand that “silver lining.” I might feel the same way eventually, if I get a positive test.

My elderly dad just passed away. He was fully vaccinated but got Covid late last year, plus a secondary infection, and it nearly killed him then. He never really fully recovered from that. So I’m not so “fascinated” by the disease or the virus.


In some ways, I am sorry that I posted this thread. Lucy’s situation with her son is not an academic study. If he doesn’t make it, “trackable data” will not be any comfort to anyone.

But in other ways, it is understandable why SARS-CoV-2 is the most-observed human pathogen on iNat. Its sudden appearance on the scene was such a shock, and its disruption of everything we thought was normal was such a trauma, it makes sense that some people would process that by posting about it, whether on iNat or wherever they spend a lot of time online.

When I was young, I read a lot of colorful books about tropical flora and fauna. The sanitized version we see in a conservatory greenhouse or an aviary makes the tropical rainforest look like a place of breathtaking beauty, even Edenic. That’s what I thought tropical nature was all about. Finding out that it also holds horrors like yellow fever brought on a serious case of cognitive dissonance; resolving that cognitive dissonance meant somehow integrating the awareness of the horrors with the awareness of the breathtaking beauty.

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He will make it. I know this because the doctors tell me so. He is in hospital now, his dengue having turned hemorrhagic quite suddenly Friday midmorning. My husband is there now and I am leaving as soon as I finish my coffee to go relieve him and speak with the doctor. (Because of our son’s difference one of us is allowed to remain with him at all times.)

As of yesterday, his platelets were still falling, 67, but he is under the care of a team of extremely good critical care specialists who seem very sure either today or tomorrow’s blood draw will reveal a turn in his count. I am told when the platelets turn upward they shoot upward.

Yesterday was “Dengue Day 8” and to console myself I found a little pad of paper in a drawer, took a piece and folded it to approximate graph paper, then mapped his platelet drop. It is not a straight line and appears to be falling more slowly now. Still I am not an epidemiologist and do not know if that has any clinical significance but it made ME feel better. (My late mother was a maths teacher.)

What I do not understand is why this year dengue is so high and continues unabated. Nobody does, though wild theories abound, from “The Tren Maya has disrupted the ecosystem in some way” to “Perhaps it is something in this year’s Saharan dust.”


Just know you have people half a world away hoping for his recovery <3


His morning’s draw having shown an upward tick to 100, he is considered to have passed to the third stage of dengue, recuperation! Because hospitals here are saturated and he is no longer in danger, he has been discharged to continue his recovery at home. (We can have laboratory draws in home and even IVs administered in the extremely unlikely event he falls a smidge behind again.)

@jasonhernandez74 I hope this update finds you having a good trip and because of your posts I am actually considering posting an Observation. My son leaves our home less often and so likely acquired dengue here (at least the state is treating our block as if he did, and given our neighbors’ earlier illnesses it seems likely) so perhaps it fits within the parameters of my Observations. What are your thoughts? I value your insights.

edit to add: look at my graph!


My thoughts are that I am sorry to have brought up this topic.

I did so not thinking about the human stories behind it. World-O-Meter or the WHO website presents statistics – impersonal numbers – on disease incidence, but behind each data point is a personal story of suffering and sometimes loss. When I find the statistics on dengue – About 390 million people are infected per year, about half a million require hospital admission, and approximately 40,000 die – that is 40,000 bereaved families and millions of horrific ordeals of pain and suffering. The two existing iNaturalist observations of Dengue Virus (one from Ho Chi Minh City and one from the outskirts of Bangkok) do not begin to provide the true picture.

I conclude that this thread could only have been made by someone who has had access to adequate health care. Here I have been ignoring threads about what kinds of cameras and lenses to buy (because such things are beyond my budget), and sometimes having judgmental thoughts about it, yet I, too, have enjoyed, and taken for granted, things that are beyond the reach of so many.


So glad to hear that!
If you want to make an observation… ;-) you are probably checking the house anyway for mosquitoes. So what about an observation dead or alive - which is the species that transmits dengue?

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The ones responsible for dengue are Aedes aegypti. There are also tiny, darker black ones that hurt incredibly but you usually cannot spot until they latch on but these are not responsible for dengue is my understanding. These you usually smack in situ on your body. (Some of us say impolite words whilst doing so.)

We actually had a very balanced ecosystem in the garden with the bats and lizards doing a good job of eating mosquitoes, but all it takes is one and they are, unfortunately, mobile. There is a property to the side of us, in between the two elderly sisters who were sick the week before and us, in a state of some abandon and I suspect there is stagnant water there.

@jasonhernandez74, for my part I think your interest in tropical diseases is fine. There will always be an awkward moment to negotiate when a car buff meets someone who suffered a serious traffic accident, a wine connoisseur someone waiting for a liver, and a tropical disease enthusiast a mother in the midst of a dengue outbreak. You are quite right to note that data points are sterile, but I think they maybe have to be to provide emotional distance for those doing the work to reduce the numbers. Please be kind to yourself. You are a tremendously deep thinker and the world needs more of that.


RE: tropical diseases, I think the only real fascination I’ve ever had with them (outside of just… empathy for people who have to suffer them) has been with efforts to eradicate them. Dracunculiasis/guinea worm disease has gone from a million cases in the late eighties to nearly eradicated and the amount of gargantuan effort and cooperation that the effort has taken just really speaks to the good that humanity is capable of when we work towards the common good.

There have only been six cases reported this year so far. Within a few more years, it may be gone completely, we’re on the cusp of no one having to suffer that awful, painful, pointless, cruel disease ever again.


This species is a recent arrival in my area (New Mexico) and I’ve been slapping at them all summer. They are definitely more elusive and not as obvious as the bigger resident species of mosquito. I first noticed them in 2022 and did get an iNat photo record. Local health authorities say our population isn’t carrying any disease, but it’s still a little unnerving to have Yellow Fever Mosquitoes in and around the house.


I’m sorry for your loss. What a tough year :palms_up_together:


I had not been following this thread, but I was so very relieved to read your son has started to recuperate. I know you’ve had a particularly tough year, too. I hope things keep improving for all of you.


As someone who suffers from a pretty debilitating and exhausting neurological disorder, I can’t say that I have a fascination with the dysfunctions and procedural errors that nature sometimes allows, especially after seeing some of the birth defects that humans and animals can be left to live with or slowly succumb to

I do love the world of parasites though, very intricate relationships forged out of a myriad of environmental and growth related challenges, some in vastly different sequence to others.


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