From: Curtis Johnson
To: Dave Hamilton
Date: Aug 25 1998 6:19:10 pm
Subject: Salt
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CJ> Have you ever seen
CJ> the William Blake painting, "Ghost of a  Flea?"

DH> No, sounds worth checking out.

Nightmarish.  Apparently he painted/drew it directly
from a hallucination; I've read a quote from someone who was
visiting him when he gave a start and said he was seeing the

CJ> Fur doesn't
CJ> necessarily stop mosquitoes.  One reason to  roam the woods with a
CJ> dog is that mosquitoes will tend to go   after the dog before you.
CJ> Humans are apparently low in their  preferred diet, but they
CJ> definitely will take what they can get.

DH> They do. I don't know if it's my imagination or not, but it seems
DH> like humans are displaying a lot more sensitivity to insect stings
DH> and bites than in years past.

Interesting question.  Perhaps one clue is your "city-raised
boys" below:  they would have had a lot less exposure, and would
not have gone through a natural densensitization for mosquito bites.
Perhaps they also haven't learned the hard way not to scratch at
Then again, it has been conjectured that folks who come
down with a syndrome of being allergic to virtually everything
have had just too much exposure to 20th-century synthetic
materials.  The mechanism is pretty controversial, not least
because it's not really testable.  If your effect *and* that
mechanism is real, then *maybe* something like this could be
the explanation.

Another conjecture is that, since it's the anesthetic
that the mosquito injects that the body reacts to, there might
be evolutionary pressure here:  the more anesthetic, the less
likely it would be swatted.  (Nonhuman animals can't really
swat mosquitos.)

DH> Last week I filled in as camp paramedic, dispensing the ADHD drugs
DH> to little boys, and was amazed at the degree of swelling in these
DH> young city-raised boys in reaction both to wasp stings and mosquito
DH> bites. Antihistamines have become standard issue for *everyone* who
DH> gets stung. About 1955, I remember the first anaphylatic death I
DH> had heard of, and it made national news.

I'm pretty sure that anaphylatic shock to wasp & bee bites
has been around for longer than that.  I know I was only 6 or 7
and being told about more people in the US dying from bee stings
than snakebite.

DH> This week, we have 45 teens in camp, and 7 of them have a history
DH> of anaphylaxis. (no hyperactives though... whew).

That *is* high.  I don't suppose they'd feel any more
secure if you told them you knew how to do an emergency
tracheotomy.  8-)

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