Sunday, September 14, 2014

Mosquitoes, Ineptitude, The PNP, Ineptitude and the Iceberg Phenomenon

There are a million-gazillion people in Jamaica presenting with symptoms that 'suggest' Chikungunya. We know it is Chikungunya but can't or should not say it is - all the signs point to it, Chikungunya sweeping the Caribbean, Jamaica being lax when it comes to Disease Surveillance at out ports of entry, poor border protection, the PNP being in power etc. Many of the cases seen recently do present with the symptoms Chikungunya and any old fool could tell you that yes it is. But the PNP has one thing going for it - the fact that confirmation has to be done by Laboratory analysis. The Learned Minister of Health, Dr. Fenton Ferguson maintains that Jamaica is in fact 'controlling' the Chikungunya outbreak and to date only 24 cases (0.2% of the total confirmed for the region) have been confirmed in Jamaica of the 9000 confirmed in the Caribbean Region, such statistics would suggest Jamaica is doing exceptionally well in containing the outbreak - right? Well, read this article first then we can decide.

Jamaica has 7% of the Caribbean's population but well below 7% of the confirmed cases of the disease. Yet, day after day we hear of (and see) people with symptoms suggesting Chikungunya. We have never had a Leptospirosis outbreak to the extent where people are showing up with it to the extent we see people with these symptoms and if this happens to be Leptospirosis, as the Minister is suggesting then that is very very bad. Could it be due to the rising prices and rapid devaluation of the dollar that Jamaicans have also been forced to suffer a drastic reduction in Sanitation and Hygiene? Life is hard but not hard enough (yet) to result in regression of our development resulting in sanitation conditions akin to those seen 16th Century London before Pasteur and Koch. Leptospirosis in many cases is not detected too early and often results in liver failure in many patients which manifests itself by Jaundice and I am sure not one of these cases have presented with such signs as yet. So, Leptospirosis is out of the question Minister, come again.

"Well, there is Dengue" he is saying, "well, no there is not," I am saying! How come not even one of these cases are Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever which almost always shows up in a Dengue Fever outbreak or better yet, how come not even one of these cases present the classic symptom of retro-orbital pain (pain in the back of the eyes)? Another lame excuse is, 'it could be Influenza' - a full  two months early? Mr. Minister, come on man, stop taking us for fools! The drought has officially ended so naturally we will see a rise in mosquitoes, so this disease has to or is more likely to be something mosquito-related (further ruling out Influenza and Leptospirosis). Why would we even consider any of the aforementioned when Chikungunya is island-hopping and claiming many casualties on its little trek across the Caribbean?

How fortuitous for the present Government, the PNP that Dengue presents similar symptoms and also Leptospirosis to a lesser extent? So, it is OK for them to say "well the gazillion cases could be Dengue or Leptospirosis" which should underline the PNP's ineptitude just as much (if not more because these are all diseases we are familiar with and should by now be able to get under control). The exoticism and novelty of Chikungunya is what makes it so fearsome and would make the perception of an outbreak worse than the outbreak of Dengue or Leptospirosis when such outbreaks are just as bad if not worse.

In Disease Outbreak Investigation there are various bits of evidence that make laboratory confirmation a moot point such as patient history and behaviour. If, for example a person was exposed to rodents and farm animals and never exposed to mosquitoes then we can rule Chikungunya and/or Dengue out, and if a patient travelled to a country that is experiencing an outbreak of Chikungunya then we can conclude with some certainty that it is in fact Chikungunya as long as they present with the symptoms and further our Caribbean neighbours are being ravaged by the disease then why should the Minister suggest that the cases are mostly if not all Dengue and/or Leptospirosis? All the factors point to this outbreak being Chikungunya. One classic symptom of Dengue that makes lab confirmation unnecessary is the retro-orbital pain, Dengue is the only disease (as far as I know) with such symptoms. But lucky for the Learned Doc and his handlers in the PNP the lab confirmation is the only Technically and Legally acceptable determination.

As far as statistics go, The Ministry of Health can send only the 24 confirmed samples to be tested and technically we only have 24 'confirmed' cases, when a million-zillion suspected samples were not sent to be tested, that keeps figures (statistics) down and everybody happy - especially 'the tourists' and the Ministry of Health did its part in contributing to a phenomenon in Epidemiology we know as the "Iceberg Effect/Phenomenon," (more of a Sunken Rock or Swept Under the Rug Effect).

But guess what, we know better, don't we?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Feature I'd like to see on Google Search

When you type 'define: word here' in Google, it brings back the definition of that word, if it exists as a search result, that has been around for some time now. I am sure there are a few other stuff that syntax will get you on google. However, there is one thing I find that is missing and this I believe alienates a complete community of people that would like to see Google becoming the complete service I am sure Google strives to be.

I am an avid learner of languages, I am not good at any yet since it's been a recent interest of mine, I am trying to learn 'natural' languages and a few programming languages. I have completely taught myself Website Design with (x)HTML and CSS and have now moved on to HTML5 and CSS3 since the two are considered the future of the web. While they are not 'programming' languages in the strictest sense of the term they do have a few qualities of programming languages and teach you a few habits you need to know as a programmer. I am also in the process of learning C, C++, Javascript and PHP and MySQL. I plan to move on to Java and Python in a couple months. It has been hard going but I promise my readers (regardless how few that may be) that I will press on and will soon be able to do something useful in all these languages soon.

As part of my goal of learning a few 'natural' languages, I've embarked on a Spanish learning crusade and by now am able to speak basic Spanish to some extent, I want to improve on that too. While doing that, I am also teaching myself American Sign Language (ASL), just started out and knowing a few basic words. Why American and not British Sign Language (BSL), you might ask? Well, one reason BSL is too hard, the simplicity that is inherent in ASL makes it easier on the beginner, look at the various alphabets, a google search will help, which brings me nicely into what this article is about.

What I want to see Google do someday is allow me to type in the search 'ASL: dog' much like the define example above and it would give me the sign for dog and the same would apply for the various other languages. It would really helo those like myself who want to learn the language and don't have the mastery of the language yet. This would be somewhat of an image search or a video search. I know it may need a site dedicated to that sort of stuff, I would happily build such a site for free and host it for free as long as Google can link to my site. That would be my donation to the Internet and the Deaf Community that I so want to offer my help to but am not able to where I live. It is quite a task finding useful causes where I live in Jamaica to dedicate my time to so, I go on the net with that sort of stuff. I have so many things I would like to be a part of that is virtually impossible here and as a result some movement or cause suffers as a result but such is life from time to time.

If I am lucky, and some influential person reads this that can make it possible contact me, I'm dying to offer my assistance.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Tessanne Chin and The Voice

Tessanne Chin was always an awesome performer ever since she was with her group Mile High, they rocked and rocked real hard, she needs to bring them back together! Anyway, it shows how our taste in music has degenerated over the years, it now takes foreigners to make real Reggae and that is way sad. We were once the little country with great music, now we live off the past and we have sucked Toots, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Desmond Dekker and the like dry, like one done-out bag juice or suck-suck aka serve-me-long. When mediocre talents the like of Chronixx, I-Octane Konshens etc come up with a couple half-assed attempts at good music we laud them out of hope that this flash of brilliance may be long-lasting but they in fact turn out to be like a bamboo fire, blaze up then die down (or revert to crap) just as quickly.The Jamaican music palate has been abused with utter rubbish over the years that we look at true talent as something new and amazing.

Tessane was always good and it should not have been The Voice that showed us that. Her sister Tami is more recognisable (or was) than her because she was less talented, more pretty and evenly mediocre than Tessanne Chin. Sad, sad, SAD! I hope that she can make up for what she missed out on from this new wave of hype she has received from her "success" on The Voice. I used to watch The Voice religiously since it started something like 5 years ago and I chose not to this season because I think it an insult to her huge talent that she had to, in essence grovel to show the world how good she was, I wanted nothing to do with that and out of honour I chose not to watch it, talk about it much less vote. Now, she has eventually "made her name" though through a route I would have much preferred she had not taken, I hope Jamaicans have learned that people are better than what they sing and how they look and we are a very capable country when it comes to music.