Annual Spring Cautionary Post - 2017

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OK - This is opposite-season to our participants south of the Equator, but  
despite (at least) one very noisy individual, they are still a small minori
ty. It is also written to the vintage radio collecting crowd, but applies t
o anyone dabbling with vintage equipment.  


I have changed the format a bit, and put all the links at the beginning. I  
am also sending this out a bit earlier than usual by about 2 weeks as we ha
ve already experienced multiple days of 75F degree weather here in Pennsylv
ania, our crocuses are in full bloom, our Forsythia is also in full bloom,  
and the non-migratory butterflies are out already.

Now that there are actual flowers in bloom (Crocus, Forsythia &  
Snowdrop), it is time for the annual post on stalking the wild radio (or ot
her collectible) - and what accidental passengers that may come along with  

1. Insects and other arthropods: Anything from spiders to wasps to fleas an
d more. Any radio that has spent substantial time in a barn, basement, shed
, garage or any other damp or exposed area may well be inhabited by or infe
sted with various small and potentially painful critters. Especially those  
found in the southern states, home to the Brown Recluse and Black Widow spi
ders. Wasps, centipedes (quite  
poisonous as it happens) and other vermin are no fun as well.  And, if you  
do find some critter of this nature, KILL IT. Being soft-hearted and releas
ing it into _your_ environment may make you feel all warm  
and fuzzy, but that creature may then cause considerable harm being somewhe
re it does not belong and where it perhaps has no natural predators. EDIT:  
Global Warming (whether you believe in it or not) has pushed the Recluse ra
nge into southern Maryland ? mostly by human transport and not as s
uccessful breeding colonies but more and more common, with some few transpo
rted by human agency as far as Michigan and Pennsylvania. This is one NASTY
 spider with a very nasty bite.  

2. Evidence of Rodent Inhabitation: Handle with GREAT care.  

Hanta-Virus (a relative of Ebola) is endemic throughout the entire United S
tates, Mexico and parts of Canada. It is a disease without effective treatm
ent and an over 50% mortality rate worldwide (36% in  
the US). It is carried in the feces and fresh urine of many rodents...and t
here is limited recent evidence that reconstituted waste (dried but inhaled
) will also spread the disease especially if inhaled, a  
possibility not accepted in the recent past.  

Lyme Disease: Carried by deer ticks that winter over in the white-footed de
er mouse (an omnivore, BTW) that will winter over anywhere it can find shel
ter. The ticks that mice carry will leave the mouse  
to lay eggs... perhaps in that radio that served as their temporary winter  
dorm and latrine. Various other tick-borne diseases include Rocky Mountain  
Spotted Fever, and a whole bunch more *very* nasty diseases not worth riski
ng, are all endemic in the US.  

3. Bird Dung & Old Nests: Per a recent paper, there have been over sixty (6
0) diseases that may be carried in wild bird poop including Avian Flu, Fowl
 Typhoid, Infectious Coryza, Paratyphoid, Salmonellosis, Schistosomiasis, s
trep and on-and-on. ((Those of you servicing your Bluebird and other bird h
ouses about now need also keep this in mind.)) Most wild birds are carriers
 of these diseases and show no visible symptoms. We bleach our birdhouses -
 THEN we clean them  
out. Amazing the number of dead insects and other vermin we get out of them
 every spring.  

Asbestos: Dangerous only when friable - small particles able to become airb
orne easily. If you are a smoker, even more dangerous. A single (one (1)) f
iber can cause a fatal reaction over time ? although that actuality
 is extremely rare and will (usually) take many years. For all that, it is  
fairly easily made safe with a little bit of care and caution. But even if  
you do not believe it is dangerous, you do not have the right to expose oth
ers, or transport it in conveyances where residual material may come in con
tact with others - that is, do not transport it openly in the family miniva

Bottom line: A proverbial ounce of caution beats the hell out of a pound of
 care. Common sense, rubber gloves, a breathing mask, Lysol, Bleach, Moth-b
alls, Insecticides (which often do not work on Spiders or Ticks, so read th
e label), and other elementary precautions conscientiously and carefully ap
plied will "safen" even the nastiest of wild radios.  

Peter Wieck  
Melrose Park, PA

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