Thursday, February 16, 2006


I received a missive from the French Embassy in London the other day. It told me that the CHIK is an illness that is "pandemic" in the Indian Ocean. It is interesting to note how the problem is becoming universalised both literally and metaphorically. They also inform me that there have been NO deaths related to the virus...

... the embassy obviously do not read the local press, or for a rather more balanced and pragmatic approach the words of the epidemiologist, Philippe Quénel :

Le nombre de décès liés de près ou de loin au chikungunya a-t-il augmenté ?

Oui, il y a eu une évolution, il y en a eu plus (ndlr : 29 décès liés au chikungunya d’après la Préfecture au début du mois). Mais je pense que ça n’a aucune valeur de communiquer sur ces chiffres. Seuls, ils ne sont pas suffisants pour interpréter l’impact de la maladie. L’analyse des certificats de décès où est mentionné le chikungunya en cause associée n’est pas la meilleure approche scientifique. Elle ne nous permet pas d’avoir une idée exacte de l’impact de l’épidémie sur la mortalité à la Réunion.

Why this is interesting is not solely for the damage control hastily put in place by the various departments of the French establishment, but also because it highlights the total lack of communication in an age of communication.

For example, the embassy tell me that treatment for the symptoms is with anti-inflammatories and pain killers, but NOT cortisones or asprin derivatives. Odd that all the people I know of who have had the Chik have been prescribed both the above!

Look, if "our" reaction when a relatively benign virus arrives on the shores of a tropical island is to run around like a headless chicken whilst the head squaks rumours, rubbish and paternalist neo colonial clap trap what will happen when the chicken gets the flu?

The Journal this morning tells of the military invading a wake and "flytoxing" the vicinity at two in the morning. One is always slightly concerned about using the military in public health matters as it sorta goes against the ethos of being military, but when they start acting like "Ghostbusters" one has right to be concerned.

photo credits The Journal

Yeah! I know it is easy to criticise, but I do live here and will get the Chik tomorrow if not this morning. Besides, my family are still coming to visit at the end of March and I have not thought about cancelling. Errr, what was that about Norman Fowler's hamburger? ;-)

In the meantime lets hope Chirac doesn't dock the Clemenceau here claiming it has returned to "France" and looking to the future and bird flu :

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