An attempt to lift the spirits*
* Warning: some readers may find this article upsetting as it sets out to use the language of the Corona Virus outbreak humorously in the context of drinking alcohol at home during lockdown.
I think I picked up the virus fairly recently on one of my trips to Italy, although that might have been a case of Aperol-Spritz disease.
I was aware of the virus because of some exposure back in the early 1970’s in Soho, London, when there was a small outbreak in a bar that I frequented. I probably suffered from a slight infection at that stage, but the symptoms quickly faded, and there was no test for it in those days. I thought no more about it for years.
The original strain
Campari (CV-N60) was the original strain and having established itself in the Italian population in Novara in 1860, it was joined by its milder sibling Aperol (AV-P19) in an outbreak in 1919 in Padova. They say that successful viruses are those that are easily passed on and do least damage to their host and this is a case in point. Campari, the original virus, is generally regarded as stronger, more bitter, more inclined to be found in older communities than its younger counterpart which does less damage and is more attracted to younger people. As a result Aperol is now more widespread than the original strain.
Initially, the symptoms are similar, you experience an urge to drink huge quantities of a red or orange liquid with large amounts of ice, embellished by citrus fruit. There is a difference though, The Campari virus is indeed more serious and leaves a more bitter taste in your mouth. It definitely sets adults more firmly in its sights than younger people.
Anyone who has suffered a prolonged bout of Campari, will probably have been treated with either soda or tonic, and fed a few slices of orange or lime, along with stacks of ice. They will instantly recognise the unique bittersweet aftertaste for the rest of their lives. This is the only test they will need.
If, however, you have a more common case of Aperol-spritz you may find that rather than the fizz going out of your life, you are strangely uplifted.
So, while a bout of Aperol-spritz disease also gives you an urge to drink copious volumes of fluids with ice, the fluid tends to be more orange than red and to be effervescent. As a result, this disease can leave the sufferer somewhat light-headed and can lead to total disorientation. Aperol-Spritz attacks a wider age range, often targeting younger people who seem to be more susceptible to its infection. Scientists have many theories as to why this might be, but generally they succumb to the disease before being able to complete their studies.
Prolonged exposure to either of these diseases, can eventually lead to kidney failure or, in the case of The Campari virus, to further complications such as Negroni or even worse Negroni Sbagliato. In very rare cases, it may even develop into the Boulevardier syndrome, which brings with it an unfortunate aftertaste reminiscent of Bourbon whiskey and a twist of lemon and is almost always much more debilitating after an initial feeling of euphoria.
So, if you are contemplating dipping a toe into Italy, or even a heel, be very careful. These diseases are not to be taken lightly and may lead to lifelong dependences and the need to take medication for the rest of your days – with any luck!