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Winning the gold in Exotic Diseases Diagnosis

There’s a new event in the very imminent Olympics: speed diagnosis.

Apparently, thanks to cutting edge technology and a £2.5 million grant from the DH, we’ll now only have to wait 24 hours to diagnose gastrointestinal illness. This is part of the HPA's plans to be 'Fit for the Olympics challenge' (most definitely their words, not mine).

I think the idea is that if any of those Johnny Foreigners (my words, not theirs - though that’s obviously what they mean) gets D&V, we can make a microbiological diagnosis in world record time so that we can…er…er…

Actually, why do we need to make a microbiological diagnosis in world record time? We don't. As the HPA spokesperson said, 'It shouldn't make too much difference to what the GP says to the patient. They might still give symptomatic advice such as, "Go home, drink lots of fluids and wash your hands after meals and going to the toilet".' So that's £2.5milllion well spent.

But that's not the most interesting thing. This is:

"The HPA is also working with the RCGP to raise awareness in GPs about what processes to follow if patients present themselves with unusual diseases such as malaria, chikungunya and Japanese encephalitis."

Read that again. Go on. Malaria – check. Japanese encephalitis – check. But chikungunya? I'm sure I had that once with pilau rice. Is it really a disease? I pride myself on my knowledge of obscure illnesses (check out ainhum, Stiff Man Syndrome and koro).

But chikungunya? I've never even heard of it. I'm sure it's not something we normally get down Basildon way, so, yes, HPA, please do raise our awareness of this disease, raise it from a baseline baseline of 'What the f*** is that?'

And if anyone reading this knows all about chikungunya, you deserve a medal. A gold one.          

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield