Cable news channels fill me with dread. From the latest broadcasts, it’s become clear that the world is a dangerous and squirmy place.
Let’s begin with bed bugs. They have infiltrated the New York metropolitan area where I live. These 6-legged vampires have taken up residence in airlines, businesses, movie theaters, schools, apartment buildings and private homes. Apparently, they love to travel and often come home in people’s suitcases. Historically, they have feasted on American blood since the 1700s when they journeyed over here from Europe aboard the wooden sailing vessels carrying our Founding Fathers. They are difficult to get rid of, but you can detect them with the help of a specially trained dog named Roscoe.
Meanwhile in Florida, there is a growing infestation of African rats that are the size of 6- to 9-pound cats. They come out at night and are not afraid of people. If you look outside your Floridian home when it is dark, see many pairs of tiny glowing eyes and hear some high-pitched snickering, you may have these super-sized rats in your neighborhood. They are no relation to the large mouse in Orlando. Called Gambian pouch rats, these critters have not yet made it up this way, but their smaller cousins have. I once saw two rats in love strolling lazily along the rails of the subway in New York City.
After stressing over these little beasts, you may feel like you need a vacation. Say hello to Norovirus, otherwise known as the stomach flu. Because it is a virus, this microbe is completely immune to antibiotics. You can catch it directly from infected people or the surfaces they touch as well as through food contaminated by an infected food handler.It won’t kill you, but it can make you wish it had, with gastrointestinal symptoms ranging from nausea and vomiting to problems at the opposite end. It is highly contagious and loves to take cruises. (Don’t we all?) Its favorite place to lurk is public restrooms so holding it in until you can get to your cabin could be considered a mediocre strategy for avoiding it.
In short: The world is an icky place, but you can take precautions to reduce your risk of encountering these pint-sized predators. Just stay clear of hospitals, military bases, workplaces, schools, public transportation, theaters, gyms, apartment complexes and private homes. Safe places to be might include a raft out at sea, the top of the Himalayan Mountains or the Antarctic in winter.
Perhaps the best strategy of all is to avoid watching cable news channels.