Thursday, June 28, 2007

Be the mozzie

Learn about mozzies and parasites the fun way.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


We were suppose to have gone to Tamil Nadu last December to do some community project "Project Uthavi", but as I was monitoring the Hindu (a free national e-newspaper in India) WHO, and CDC travel health using my RSS news reader (Omea on Windows, and NetNewsWire on my iBook), we got a little worried. I also bookmarked it on my (after a tutorial from techsavy Siva) using the tags chikungunya and dengue.

So at the last quarter of last year, India was on two-pronged Dengue and Chikungunya alert and soon enough Chennai was hit by both. Some of the numbers of suspected cases were staggering (amounting to several lakhs, i.e. hundred thousands). I saw this 17 Oct 2006 WHO India report on Chikungunya. The figures are based on suspected cases... so may have been grossly estimated but still its a WHO report and I was taken aback at the numbers.
17 October 2006 (

"From February 2006 to 10 October 2006, the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia has reported 151 districts in 8 states/provinces of India affected by chikungunya fever (see below). The affected states are Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Delhi. More than 1.25 million suspected cases have been reported from the country, which 752,245 were from Karnataka and 258,998 from Maharashtra provinces. In some areas reported attack rates have reached 45%."

I was soon on a daily lookout for any new cases since the trip was to be in early Dec 2006 and the monsoons were on. I was glad the Hindu was really updating the nation on regular basis. We postponed our visit to this May where it was the dry season.

Today I was at 7-eleven and the StraitsTimes report that Singapore has "imported" cases of Chikungunya. It reminded me of this CDC "Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, USA" Oct 24 travel notice. The US has also had Chikungunya imported as well.

Some of the page's links

About 30 mins ago, Siva called me and asked (told/ordered?) me to blog this cos it was pertinent in the light of the StraitsTimes article.

Some of the articles that were of interest to me end of last year are highlighted as below:

Here's an exerpt from one of the reports from the Hindu:Tamil Nadu dated Saturday, Oct 21, 2006. The Hindu is a free online newspaper in India.
"Students sought to be enlisted in the drive against chikungunya"

"The self-limiting disease, which persists for 15 days with or without treatment, was first identified in Tanzania in 1952, the Professor said. It then spread through Bangkok, Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka and the Phillipines.

In February 2005, 2.58 lakh persons were affected by the disease in the Reunion Islands, and 3,500 in Mauritius. In December 2005, 80000 people were affected in Karnataka and 2000 in Andhra Pradesh in 2006. The disease was first identified in Calcutta in 1963, 1964 in Madras and 1973 in Maharashtra where the cases numbered several lakhs.

In Tamil Nadu, all districts barring the Nilgiris and Tiruvannamalai have been affected by the disease, he said. The Nilgiris does not have any incidence of chikungunya because of the cold weather conditions there. The disease has not affected Tiruvannamalai, where even malaria and filarial are prevalent, because of the awareness generated through students, Prof. Appavoo said.

First report

In Tamil Nadu, 1063 villages out of 58,105, 26 out of 104 Municipalities and the Salem and Chennai Corporations have recorded incidence of chikungunya, he said."

Just a few days before that there was a report on Saturday, Oct 14, 2006 which described a massive rally on Dengue and Chikungunya awareness in Nagapattinam (south of Chennai)

"Dengue awareness rally
Staff Reporter

NAGAPATTINAM: People's Development Association (PDA)on Tuesday conducted a massive rally to create awareness of the causes and consequences of chikungunya and dengue viral diseases among people.'

More on this CHIK (as WHO termed it) disease

WHO website

"Chikungunya Fever, a re-emerging Disease in Asia

Chikungunya fever, is a viral illness that is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The disease resembles dengue fever, and is characterized by severe, sometimes persistent, joint pain (arthritis), as well as fever and rash. It is rarely life-threatening. Nevertheless widespread occurrence of diseases causes substantial morbidity and economic loss"

More on this WHO website


The etymology of the CHIK disease is particularly interesting... From the wikipedia on Chikungunya

"The name is derived from the Makonde word meaning "that which bends up" in reference to the stooped posture developed as a result of the arthritic symptoms of the disease. The disease was first described by Marion Robinson[1] and W.H.R. Lumsden[2] in 1955, following an outbreak on the Makonde Plateau, along the border between Tanganyika and Mozambique, in 1952. Chikungunya is closely related to O'nyong'nyong virus[3]."

The FAQ on this National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, India website is also pretty useful.



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Monday, June 25, 2007

Jam session2

1st podcast - get it here

This is raw, done on Garageband with a Macbook, Ivan's planning to do a mash-up with some lead guitar.



Dei, how dah.

This is Howard. My JC school mate....

Thursday, June 21, 2007

100 sea coconuts


I was staring out into an open field while the rest were negotiating prices for teachers file cabinets for the school in Tamil Nadu. I had always wondered what sea coconuts Borassus flabellifer tasted like... sure enough, the few men that were harvesting the sea coconuts from about more than 50 m away waved at me. I decided, why not.. so I made my way down and soon was feasting on the sea coconuts. There's a special way of eating them and you need to use your thumb to scoop up the kernel. Its aromatic and subtly sweet. Very juicy and great for the 38-40 degree celcius heat we were experiencing. They were really generous and they even gave us a basketful for our students to eat.

It was just one occasion of many in Tamil Nadu's friendliness I encountered. Another was across the road from a teashop where I was observing a shopkeeper making tea. Soon enough they noticed me and waved at me to go. I was a bit reluctant this time cos my stomach wasn't up to it after a roadside limejuice I had a few days back. But in all you could really make friends there by just taking an interest.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Project Uthavi 2007

Its been exactly a year since the last time we first visited. This time, the refugees at Gummidipoondi were happy that we finally made it there and with the entire team, it was a year-long wait. It was surreal and even until now, I am a little disoriented by the events. We were greeted with such warmth and friendliness.

We tried giving simple english lessons but in the end it was being there that counted the most. The NGO said that our visit would raise the morale of the children and make them feel special. It was hard to believe at first that presence would be such an important aspect to the trip, but it was.

It was an amazing 2 weeks with its ups and downs but 3 days after returning home, my heart still lingers there...

Here are some snapshots