The Cranky Ol' Bat

Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! - RuPaul


Ya Read It Here First....

If you page down to my entry for the 9th, you will see a little blurb about Australia's warning to its citizenry about Reunion Island and it's outbreak of a nasty disease called chikungunya.

According to Auntie Beeb, about one-fifth of the population has come down with it, and it is now spreading to Madagascar and Mauritius. A few cases have even been reported in France, as visitors to the island bring a little souvenir back with them to the mainland. (Reunion Island is a French departement, sorta/kinda like we consider Puerto Rico and Guam to be US territory.) Seventy seven people have died from it or its complications.

About 500 French troops have been deployed to assist the locals with mosquito spraying, and other aid is being prepared to send to the stricken island.

The symptoms are dehydration, extreme pain, and high fever. There is no treatment available for chikungunya (Swahili for "that which bends up").

So....maybe it's time to revisit our favorite travelers' warnings sites and see if there are any updates you gotta know about as you plan your spring break.

Let's start with one I haven't gone to before, but is still a good one to check out. The Centers for Disease Control has some good news to report, actually. Polio outbreaks dating back to 2003 in 21 countries have been eradicated in 15 of them. Be sure your immunizations are current should you be heading to Angola, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Nepal, Somalia and Yemen.

Even better, two countries, Egypt and Niger, which had been considered naturally endemic, have not had a single case in over 12 months, and have been taken off the list of endemic countries. (In case you were wondering who the remaining nations are, they are Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and Pakistan.) India and Pakistan are making progress, and have reported half of the cases that they did in 2004.

The US State Department took a break from stabbing Denmark in the back to issue a warning about traveling to remote parts of Algeria, due to terrorist activity in the northern mountain and southern regions of the country. Be sure you are with reputable tour guides if you insist on venturing there, and don't even think about overland travel at night.

The Aussies advise that you stay out of Indonesia. They claim they have intelligence pointing towards another imminent attack aimed against foreigners and western targets, especially in Bali and Jakarta. Saudi Arabia is also on their no-go if you really don't have to list, due to the strong possibility of terrorist attacks.

Canada has some warnings for you if you are planning on visiting parts of Peru. Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, guerillas killed eight policemen in the area of Aucayacu, and has instituted a two month state of emergency in the region. They've deployed troops, and have the authority to break up meetings and raid homes. By the way, watch your step if you are by the border with Ecuador, since there are unexploded land mines in the area. Stay clear of the Colombian border, since every now and then the Peruvian army meets up with Colombian narco-traficante rebels. Just keep your happy butt out of the rainforest there, m'kay??

The Brits have the usual warnings. However, they have joined up with Lonely Planet to issue a guide with basic travel info for their citizens traveling abroad. Best part is, you can download it for free to your computer if you are so inclined. The link provides a few options for "Travel Safe" downloads.

Take care out there, and have a great trip if you are heading to a foreign shore. The Tsar and I will keep you posted on our possible voyages......who knows, I might actually get to meet my in-laws in Moscow in the next few months if the doctor gives me the ok to travel!

I gotta start brushing up on my Russian....


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