Viral Rivalry

“Second West Nile death reported in Tarrant County”– Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Treatment for West Nile Virus Scheduled for Massapequa” – Massapequa Patch

“Owyhee latest ID county to find West Nile skeeters” – The Sacramento Bee

“How come we never hear about East Nile Virus?” – Timmy, age 11

Good question, Timmy! Here’s why:

Studies of phylogenetic lineages have determined that West Nile Virus emerged as a distinct infectious agent a thousand years ago, and might even have been the cause of the early death of Alexander the Great. Before then, however, East Nile Virus was the virus of Africa. So when West Nile Virus carriers such as Flaviviridae Flav, “Sucker” MC Malaria, and Encephali-T started getting noticed, East Nile mainstays felt slighted. East Nile carrier Sick Dog’s “Fuck Uganda,” a stinging screed aimed at W.N.V., is believed to be the origin of the overt East Nile/West Nile rivalry in the year 991.

In late 992, West Nile disease vector/producer Dr. DEET’s solo debut, The Chironomidae, was released on the newly founded Dead End Infections; in early 993, the album was certified “triple plague.” In late 993, Dead End Infections released Dengguestyle, the debut by DEET’s protégé Swamp Dengg (previously known as “Swamp Denggue Dengg”), which also went multi-plague. By early 994, the quick ascension of Dead End Infections (helmed by DEET and Huge Mite) had focused both popular and critical attention squarely on the West Nile Virus scene.

Meanwhile, in 992, fledgling ectoparasite (and South American transplant) Mos Quito hatched the East Nile-based label Bad Bite Secretions. The following year, the label released the debut of carrier “The Contagious B.U.G.” to much acclaim. This production, “Ready to Fly,” and others by both new and established East Nile carriers revitalized the East Nile Virus scene. These efforts did not go unnoticed, or unresponded-to, by the West Nile Virus carriers. East Nile-born but West Nile-raised carrier “Eggsac” established a rivalry with “Buggie,” publicly accusing him and Quito of arranging to have his abdomen drained of blood and his thorax bitten five times in a shallow pool of stagnant water in late 994. Soon after that incident, Buggie released a new effort—“Big Pupa”—with a B-side entitled, “Who Bit Ya?” Although Quito and Buggie denied having anything to do with the biting, asserting that “Who Bit Ya?” had been recorded before the incident, the virus community believed it was a slap in the antenna, a poke in the compound eye, a thumbing of the proboscis at Eggsac and West Nile carriers in general.

East Nile-West Nile tensions only escalated when a close friend of Huge Mite’s was swatted at a party in 995. Mite accused Mos Quito of having ordered the swat. Later that year, Mite helped secure the release of Eggsac from a spider web, in return for his agreement to join the Dead End Infections stable of carriers. Soon after his release from the sticky house in late 995, Eggsac joined Mite in fostering bad blood between Dead End and Bad Bite.

In September of 996, however, the viral rivalry took a decidedly ugly turn: Eggsac was squished by an unknown assailant. In March of 997, Contagious B.U.G. was squashed. Neither insecticide was ever solved. Later in 997, several virus carriers, representatives of both sides of the longstanding dispute (including Swamp Dengg and Dung E. Fresh), met at the request of Larva Flagellakhan, leader of the Nation of Islap, and agreed to end the rivalry.

(Around the same time, carriers Eminematocera and Insect Brown Posterior had a “beef,” but no one took much notice.)

Just prior to the turn of the century—ironically perhaps because of the truce—popular interest in Nile viruses waned. Dead End was able to weather the drought, but Bad Bite floundered. In what was seen by some as a merciful gesture, but by others as a final insult, Dead End bought out Bad Bite, absorbing it and merging the separate stables of carriers into a single scourge. Thus, by the year 1000, East Nile Virus was already a thing of the past, and West Nile Virus was perfectly positioned to become the dominant Nile Virus of the next millennium and beyond.

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

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