No Zika Yet, But Snakes / by Alan Strathman

I know there has been a lot of press in the U.S. about Zika.  There has been less news about it here despite the fact that Zika has appeared in Martinique, a neighboring island.

Today, though, three people from the Ministry of Health talked to the boys at school about Zika. I appreciated that they brought a large mosquito costume, which one presenter donned. They made a good effort to get the boys' attention.

The presenter told us all that there are at least three genera (ooh, fancy)  of mosquitos in St. Lucia. The Aedes aegypti is the one that spreads Zika. Here is a picture of it:  

You know this is the Zika mosquito because it looks just like the mosquito costume worn by the presenter today:

Avoiding the Aedes aegypti is a good idea, if for no other reason at this point than mosquito bites itch. But you can't overlook the Culex, which carries encephalitis, or the Anopheles quadrimaculatus, AKA the malaria mosquito.

But you cannot focus so much on the mosquitos flying around that you overlook.....things like this, which we saw on a recent hike in the rainforest. 

This is frightening enough, but I was slightly more worried that several people said these (giant) boa constrictors are so slow that you don't really need to worry about them.  Rather, I guess, it's the fer-de-lance, sometimes referred to as the "ultimate pit viper," that we really need to watch out for. Oh boy!

Just one more detail about this snake: My principal told me that they do not keep any snake bite venom antidote on the island.  If you are bitten, you need to get to a health care center (good luck finding one), where they will contact someone who will helicopter to Martinique, pick up some antidote, and helicopter back.  

This is not that worrisome to me because I am fairly sure that if I am bitten by a snake I will have a heart attack and die on the spot, thereby saving others a lot of time and trouble. I ought to mention to any future hiking companions that if this happens they should feel free to just move me off the trail and continue on with their hike like nothing happened. Perhaps, though, once they are done with their hike they would notify someone.

I might just stay indoors at all times.