Oh no, there’s a chink in my armor!

I have been very good about avoiding all human beings. All my classes are taught over Zoom (although my first in-person lab is scheduled for next week), I don’t go anywhere, when we do have to go public, like our biweekly grocery shopping, we shun stores that fail to practice basic viral hygiene and we go early in the morning when there are few shoppers, and I always wear my mask outside the house.

So how did I wake up in the middle of the night with a fiery sore throat and inflammation bad enough that I can barely swallow? I am assuming I caught some bug somewhere somehow, and if one bug can find its way past my defenses, so can coronavirus. May have to dig a moat around the house. May have to install a laser point defense system. May have to seal all the doors and windows with sheets of plastic. May have to wear a biohazard suit at all times. May have to re-read The Masque of the Red Death.

It really sucks to have your vulnerabilities exposed during a pandemic.


  1. profpedant says

    Gargle with Hydrogen Peroxide (the kind you buy at the Drug Store, not the rocket fuel) and your sore throat will go away. I’ve not had more than a couple of hours trouble with sore throats since I found out about that.

  2. Sonja says

    I was talking to a good friend who lives way up in Alaska, works from home, on a cul-de-sac, on a lake, and she got the flu. She had two COVID tests that were both negative, and a positive test for influenza B. I asked her, “How in the hell did you get the flu?!?” It’s a mystery, but yes, scary, because it shows how vulnerable we all are to COVID.

  3. cvoinescu says

    Sonja @ #2: does your friend receive mail? She must also go shopping and/or have things delivered every now and then. There’s no mystery.

  4. stroppy says

    Good point about the stuff that comes into your house.

    I’m finding as I get older, that my body awareness, motor skills, and ability to sustain attention have all gone down hill, and that I tend to run on autopilot when I should be focusing on what’s going on around me. I have a tendency to bump things that could be contaminated without being fully aware of the chain of transmission at the time.

    Wear your glasses when you’re out and about.

  5. anxionnat says

    Same thing (sore throat, trouble swallowing, wheezing–no temp though) happened to me the first week of April. Definitely not a cold, and my COVID tests, all 3 of them, came back negative. So was it COVID? Damned if I know! I hope you feel better soon. Mine dragged on intermittently til early May, almost a month.

  6. robro says

    Perhaps it’s smoke related? Everyone around me is coughing, wheezing, and clearing their throats all the time. Although you’re a long ways from the western fires, AirNow shows the smoke plumb well into the mid-west…in fact, well into the mid-Atlantic. By now the AQI is better even here, but we’ve had weeks of breathing irritants.

  7. PaulBC says

    May have to re-read The Masque of the Red Death.

    Have you welded shut the doors to your house?

    That didn’t work either, IIRC. On the other hand, inviting hundreds of people into a confined space to party was probably a bad idea. I don’t think that story should be read as a how-to.

    I’ve stayed virus free applying almost exactly the approach you described, but it is really hard to keep far enough from other shoppers. I wonder if you can pick up an infection by droplets entering your eye. Or maybe you picked up something that lasts longer on surfaces. Interesting puzzle. I have no idea.

  8. PaulBC says

    Also, whenever approaching my mailbox I imagine someone is trying to infect me with anthrax. By now, they probably would have succeeded if it was really anthrax, but it keeps me alert.

  9. anchor says

    Agree with robro: its probably wildfire smoke. I’ve been smelling it since the plume reached Wisconsin 3 weeks ago and its been giving me a raw throat. Starting early last evening a dense band pushed by a body of cleaner air passed through the upper Midwest. It smelled like a campfire convention out there. Anybody who has been paying attention to GOES satellite image loops has been aware of the unprecedented extent of that plume and its growth. It started crossing the Atlantic over 2 weeks ago, yet commercial news/weather services seem to have begun to report on that only in the last couple of days. They’re basically useless.

  10. stroppy says

    I wonder if you can pick up an infection by droplets entering your eye.

    I think so (depending on what kind of bug). One of the things they recommend is not rubbing your eyes, and I think there’s some indication that wearing glasses helps — or better a face shield. Early on in some places they were making makeshift shields out of those large plastic water jug thingummies. Don’t know if they’re still doing that anywhere.

  11. hillaryrettig says

    Gargle with Hydrogen Peroxide (the kind you buy at the Drug Store, not the rocket fuel) and your sore throat will go away.

    I imagine the rocket fuel will make your sore throat go away, although you might have other problems…

    I agree, it sucks to be sick during a pandemic, you worry more. I hope you feel better soon, PZ. If it helps, feel free to think of these as the halcyon days before people figured out how to 3D print viruses.

  12. unclefrogy says

    earlier some time in late spring I decided to do some sorting and clearing out and dismantled some old mid-tower computers than had been accumulating I thought nothing of it . I forgot about all that old dust and was sick with a sinus thing from it for a few days.
    I probably would not have noticed as much before the pandemic it seems to have made me more aware of things like that so now I take extra steps. There are all kinds of things waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of me as a resource source, insects, viruses, fungus and bacteria, and not to be forgotten alley cats in all their varied colors.
    uncle frogy

  13. blf says

    Early preparation for the FtB Carnival — speakers are supposed to get sick, loose presentations, have the ‘Net blow up, etc., just before the event. Poopyhead seems to be a tad early, suggesting they are either practicing or the calendar is about to undergo a big alteration.

    (Commiserations… hope it’s nothing and you’re soon feeling fine!)

  14. René says

    I live in the capital of my country, Netherlands, also the capital of Dutch Covid infections. A city with a large student population — that just wants to party.

    I’m scared as hell also. Thoughts and prayers, PZ, if only that would work.

  15. says

    I have been locked down since March. Wear masks when out of the house if there are other people within seeing distance. Had no visitors, except for driveway conversations with other careful people, a car-length away. Shop once a week, quickly, masked, at 7 AM, in a store where masks are required and aisles are wide and mostly empty. Keep my distance, anyhow.
    So twice in that time, I’ve come down with a cold, both times after standing in a line, masked, outside on windy days, 2 metres or more of social distance, under 15 minutes each time.
    Hell is other people.

  16. fergl says

    Yep. Sobering. Ive been shielding since march. Unfortunately 2 kids off to school, now got sore throat and headaches. So difficult. Almost like viruses evolve to survive.

  17. birgerjohansson says

    Test for strep and sars-cov-2.
    -Also, if the student body and the staff are sensible and practice social distancing, and if furniture is arranged so people are not close to each other unless they have transparent plastic in between, you will *not inevitably get an outbreak.
    Umeå University tested most of the students and staff the first two weeks of the term.
    Of 9907 only six had an active SARS-Cov-2 infection.

  18. wzrd1 says

    @PZ, if you want, I should be able to locate a BSL-3 suit for cost. Been considering one myself… :/
    Had the fiery sore throat myself, hypertonic saline gargles dismissed it quickly, suggesting a strept taking a nibble at me. I’m also considering adding some HEPA filtration, with a minimum of 2 inches of water overpressure, mounting the intakes next to the invisible machine gun mounts of my imaginary fortress of filtration, largely out of concerns over allergen exposure. That’d be cheaper than incessantly going back and forth with an allergy specialist!
    For the machine guns, gotta figure out a source of BANG! banner flags, like used car lots so love, then pop a pennant at a time out… Quietly, I loathe loud noises and launching machines from a gun sounds just way too strenuous and loud. ;)
    Going to the stupidmarket for a provisions run this afternoon, will also have to pop in for some V2 rocket fuel, since we’ve depleted that as well. Got plenty of H2O2 USP and there’s no way in hell that I’d ever want high test H2O2 anywhere near my domicile.

  19. davidc1 says

    @1 , Hydrogen Peroxide ,that’s the Stoff to use ,hahaha.
    Going for a operation next week ,had to have a covid test today ,the nurse stuck the swap thing so far up my nostrils ,i thought i am having a lobotomy .

  20. brightmoon says

    A table salt gargle works well too. If you can’t get out and you need something. Best if you do it at that first sign of a tickle though . And the old standby listerine works too

  21. PaulBC says

    I vote strep (or some other throat infection) rather than smoke at least if it persists a few days. I think you’d know if it was a chemical irritant.

  22. numerobis says

    Sonja: “Influenza B virus is only known to infect humans and seals.”

    Clearly your friend was being friendly with pinnipeds.

  23. numerobis says

    cvoinescu : it’s quite unusual for people to have the flu right now, particularly influenza B, so I’d say there is some mystery.

    WHO reports: Worldwide, of the very low numbers of detections reported, seasonal influenza A viruses accounted for the majority of detections.

    The southern flu season hasn’t started yet — but this is when it should normally be ending.

  24. Ray, rude-ass yankee - One inseparable gemisch says

    I’ve been sick with some mess for over a week now. Dr. says it’s not covid, but with the cough, aches, and sore throat still kicking my backside I’m not eager to go back to work. One of my co-workers had a sore throat and then tested positive right about the same time I got sick, so there’s that too. Kind of sucks donkey balls. Been doing cold meds, flonase, and saline rinses. I hope we all start feeling better soon.

  25. dianne says

    I recommend you get checked for strep. It’s a bacteria so doesn’t need a clear contact for you to get it and you don’t want to let it run its course if that’s what you have. (Post-strep cardiac disease can be lethal and can be prevented by antibiotics.)

  26. dianne says

    Also, everyone with clear covid symptoms and a negative covid test: Remember that the Trump admin took the FDA’s authority to regulate lab tests away. A negative may mean all squat. (Likewise a positive: don’t assume you’re immune if you have a prior positive test.)

  27. wzrd1 says

    @davidc1, went through the same shit. Shitty guidance, so drill for brain is the notion.
    Yeah, want another, quarantine me to die, rather than again.