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News ::
DID YOU OR ANYONE YOU KNOW TRAVEL TO CANCUN FOR THE WTO? Important health notice (english)
17 Sep 2003
Modified: 20 Sep 2003
Many folks travelled from around the world to Cancun to protest the WTO. Many of those same people will be returning home tired, energized, impassioned and with RED EYES, or at least the virus that causes pink eye, or conjunctivitis. Read here for information on treatment, as well as how to prevent spread to others.
In Cancun a fabulous team of street medics treated activists with head injuries from cop batons, bad cuts from tearing down the fence blocking protestors from the convention center, dehydration from the hot and humid weather, and PINK EYE (conjunctivitis).

There is a pink eye epidemic in the Cancun area, and folks travelling there for the demonstrations were not spared.

The illness spreads very easily -- from a person touching their eye or face, to touching something else (door handle, light switch, beer bottle or whatever else). Then another person touches the same thing, then touches their face and tada! a nasty, debilitating illness that can put you out of commission for days.

To prevent spreading the dreaded pink eye, people with the illness (see below for symptoms) can try not to touch their face at all, and wash their hands very frequently. Anything that a person with the illness touches can become contaminated, and should be cleaned off, ideally with alcohol or something else that kills viruses.

The symptoms are as follows: red red painful and gritty eyes with lots of tearing and yellow/green mucus, swelling around the eyes, sometimes to the point where the eyes are swollen shut, blurred vision, pain with moving eyes, a headache. Sometimes the illness becomes more generalized, with fevers, muscle and bone aches and feeling generally lousy.

The symptoms seem to last 2 - 7 days. Treatment focuses mostly on decreasing symptoms (since there is no known medicine that kills the virus that is causing the illness). Some herbs, such as chickweed, eye bright and chamomile may help decrease swelling and redness. If you have any allergies be cautious with these medicines. To prepare, pour boiling water over the herb and let steep for 15 minutes (do not put herb directly in boiling water). Then put on a cloth or gauze and let the cloth rest on your eyes for 5 - 15 minutes. Repeat as necessary. During and after treatment the cloth and your hands probably pick up lots of virus, so wash your hands well afterwards.

According to public health authorities in Cancun, this conjunctivitis epidemic is caused by a virus. As a result, antibiotic drops (which kill bacteria) will not help. However, some people who used antibiotic drops in Cancun think that it helped them recover more quickly.

We do not know whether the virus can survive in non-tropical climates, so precautions against spread may not be so important. However, the illness can be pretty severe and the precautions are relatively simple to implement.

For more information about conjunctivitis, please contact the boston medic collective at bostonmedics (at)

On another note, folks returning from Cancun can probably use lots of emotional support, since for many it was a very intense experience. For more info on emotional support specifically geared to activists, see and

And hey -- we can always use more folks interested in getting involved in the medic side of protests, especially with the massive FTAA protests coming up. See or for more general information about street medics/socorristas.

la lucha sigue,
eo for socorristas/street medics
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You wonder why people got sick?? (english)
18 Sep 2003
Let me give you a clue. The protesters had no regard for basic hygene standards.

Now some got sick?... well who would have thought it!

Throwing "Very Runny Shit" around in a hot humid climate is just asking for health problems.
Gross, but... (english)
18 Sep 2003
This looks disgusting. It also, however, looks rather doctored--for instance, what is that liquid splashing against? Did someone have some fun with a graphics editor here?

Regardless, even if this photo is real and some disgusting person was throwing something on the cops, it would have nothing to do with conjunctivitis. Conjuntivitis is spread in the ways described in the message above, and it is indeed an epidemic in the Cancun area. It also has been epidemic in the Dominican Republic recently. Consult the Centers for Disease Control if you want more info on it.
? (english)
18 Sep 2003
Were you there, Rational Normal Person, did you obvserve their every move and document every single person's hygeine? I'd like to see your analysis of the protesters' hygeine procedures, it sounds very interesting.

Oh also, conjunctivitis has nothing to do with throwing that stuff. I guess we all can't be medical, scientific experts like Rational Normal Person.
conjunctivitis (english)
19 Sep 2003
so-called rational normal person, get a fucking clue.

conjunctivitis is a serious problem, running through all populations including the richest ones who have access to clean water and the best so-called medical care.

la lucha siga!
20 Sep 2003

in the past similar outbreaks of conjunctivitis have led to a very rare but serious complication involving pain, numbness and weakness of the arms and/or legs. these symptoms usually occur 2 - 5 weeks after initial eye symptoms. if you have any of these symptoms we encourage you to see a health care provider, and be sure to tell them that you recently had a serious form of conjunctivitis that has been an epidemic in cancun. many health care providers will never have heard of this type of conjunctivitis (caused by enterovirus 70 or coxsackie virus a24) and the nerve complications mentioned above, so be persistent if they are not taking you seriously.