Published in the Rains County Leader on January 5, 2023:
As a kid, any time I developed a runny nose, a croupy chest, or anything in between, Daddy said I had the epizootie. I never asked what that meant, assuming it was a word he or his family made up to cover the gamut of upper respiratory discomforts. The distinctions weren’t important because the treatment was the same for all of them. Aspirin and/or a cool bath for fever; salt water gargle for a sore throat; Vicks Vaporub or Mentolatum up your nose, on your throat, or on your chest; and a cough syrup that tasted so bad you held a pillow over your face so your mother wouldn’t hear you cough.
David and I spent Christmas with his sisters in Louisiana. We had a great time, but I took meds for sinus pressure and drainage the whole time we were there, and by the time I woke up in my own bed Wednesday morning, I had a full-blown case of the epizootie. If you’ve lived in Texas for any length of time and have developed seasonal allergies, you know the drill. It starts with a dry, raw feeling at the back of your nose, progresses to a sore throat, and then moves into your chest producing a cough that sounds like a seal performing at a water park.
When I decided to use the word in my column, I looked it up on the Internet, hoping to find it in an urban – or rural – slang dictionary so I’d know how to spell it. Imagine my surprise to find that it’s a real word, or at least a form of a real word. An epizootic can be compared with an epidemic and is defined as an occurrence of a disease or disorder in a population of non-human animals at a frequency higher than that expected in a given time period. Except for the “non-human” part, it sounds a lot like the rash of related diseases that have been going around Rains County and extended parts of northeast Texas for the last few months. It’s not the flu, COVID, or even the common cold – it’s the epizootie!(more…)