Thursday, January 7, 2010

Elephantiasis: Why have the alarmists overlooked it?

Somehow I got to thinking about elephantiasis*, or lymphatic filariasis as its also known. Surely everyone has that defining moment when they first saw a photo of an unfortunate sufferer dragging his nuts around in a wheelbarrow, or is that just me?

It occurred to me the other day that the filarial parasite is spread by mosquitoes, and yet not once have I heard an alarmist warn that cimate change was going to lead to an increase in elephantiasis. Huh. Even a few quick literature searches hasn't led to much of anything specifically trumpeting the link. (Although I have discovered that November the 11th is National Filaria Day in India. Mark it on your calendar.)

Even the WHO managed to get all the way through a lymphatic filariasis fact sheet without once mentioning climate change or global warming. In fact, in an almost scary display of rationality, they mention in the first paragraph that:
In tropical and subtropical areas where lymphatic filariasis is well-established, the prevalence of infection is continuing to increase. A primary cause of this increase is the rapid and unplanned growth of cities, which creates numerous breeding sites for the mosquitoes that transmit the disease.

Double huh. To tell you the truth I am somewhat surprised. Doesn't elephantiasis have enough tropical freaky Ewww value to appeal to the warmists? Is malaria or dengue somehow sexier because it brings to mind pallid, febrile englishmen in pith helmets and white cotton shirts, artfully unbuttoned to expose chests bedewed with fever sweat? Or is that just me again? (Ahh, Paul, you can be the colonial overlord and I'll be the dusky, south seas maid.**)

I'm offended on behalf of the filarial parasite and elephantiasis sufferers everywhere. Were they disinvited from the climate and health gravy-train ride for fear they would take up too much space? What gives?

* Also considered as a title was "Is that elephantiasis, or are you just happy to see me?".
** My initial thought was to say "Lets play sahibs and dhobi wallahs", but decided that was possibly too wierd. Although not as wierd as the time a friend of mine, on his way to a fancy dress party, got into a lift dressed as an English officer of the Raj, only to discover the only other occupant of the lift was a middle-aged Sikh. When they reached the ground floor, the Sikh gentleman turned to him and said "Under the circumstances, sir, I think I should go first."


  1. I like your sense of humour, backed up by great research!

  2. Thanks! You have a great site, I'm glad I found it.


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