Fleas that bite rodents infected with the bacteria that cause the plague can transmit the disease to people.
Credit: Janice Haney Carr/CDC
Fleas carrying the plague have been found in some parts of Arizona, according to health officials.
On Friday (Aug. 11), the Navajo County Health Department (NCHD) announced that fleas collected in the town of Taylor, Arizona, had tested positive for Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague.
The department “is urging the public to take precautions to reduce their risk of exposure to this serious disease,” officials said in a Facebook post.
Separately, officials in nearby Coconino County also warned of fleas carrying plague in that area. [10 Bizarre Diseases You Can Get Outdoors]
A sudden die-off of prairie dogs or other rodents also may be an indicator of plague, so people who notice a sudden die-off of rodents should contact the health department, the NCHD said.
Symptoms of the plague typically appear within two weeks of exposure and include fever, chills, headache, weakness, muscle pain and swollen lymph glands (called “buboes”), the NCHD said. The disease is curable with antibiotics if treated early.
What does the Bible say about pandemic diseases/sicknesses?
Question: “What does the Bible say about pandemic diseases/sicknesses?”
Answer: The recent Ebola outbreak has prompted many to ask why God allows—or even causes—pandemic diseases and whether such pandemic diseases are a sign of the end times. The Bible, particularly the Old Testament, describes numerous occasions when God brought plagues and diseases on both His people and His enemies “to make you see my power” (Exodus 9:14, 16). He used plagues on Egypt to force Pharaoh to free the Israelites from bondage, while sparing His people from being affected by them (Exodus 12:13; 15:26), thus indicating His sovereign control over diseases and other afflictions.
God also warned His people of the consequences of disobedience, including plagues (Leviticus 26:21, 25). Numbers 16:49 and 25:9 describe God destroying 14,700 people and 24,000 people, respectively, for various acts of disobedience. After giving the Mosaic Law, God commanded the people to obey it or suffer many evils, including something that sounds like Ebola: “The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation…which will plague you until you perish” (Deuteronomy 28:22). These are just a few examples of many plagues and diseases God caused.
It’s sometimes hard to imagine our loving and merciful God displaying such wrath and anger toward His people. But God’s punishments always have the goal of repentance and restoration. In 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, God said to Solomon: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Here we see God using disaster to draw us to Himself, to cause us to repent of sin and come to Him as children to their heavenly Father.
In the New Testament, Jesus healed “every disease and every sickness,” as well as plagues in the areas He visited (Matthew 9:35; 10:1; Mark 3:10). Just as God chose to use plagues and disease to show His power to the Israelites, Jesus healed as an exhibition of the same power to verify that He was truly the Son of God. He gave the same healing power to the disciples to verify their ministry (Luke 9:1). God still allows sickness for His own purposes, but sometimes disease, even worldwide pandemics, are simply the result of living in a fallen world. There is no way to determine which, although we do know that God has sovereign control over all things (Romans 11:36), and He will work all things together for the good of those who know and love Him (Romans 8:28).
The Ebola epidemic was not the last we will see of plagues and pandemic diseases. Jesus referred to future plagues that will be part of the end-times scenario (Luke 21:11). The two witnesses of Revelation 11 will have power “to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want” (Revelation 11:6). Revelation 15 speaks of seven plagues wielded by seven angels as the final, most severe judgments, described in Revelation 16.
Whether the current outbreak of Ebola and other pandemic diseases are part of God’s judgment or the result of living in a fallen, sinful world, and whether or not it is a signal that the end time is beginning, our response should be the same. For those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior, disease is a reminder that life on this earth is tenuous and can be lost at any moment. Without the saving blood of Christ shed for us, we will pay for our sins for all eternity in a hell that will make the worst pandemic seem mild. For the Christian, however, we have the assurance of salvation and the hope of eternity because of what Christ suffered on the cross for us (Isaiah 53:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28).
Recommended Resource: A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada
The Horsemen of Revelation
The Pale Horse of Pestilence
Posted on Jul 1, 2004 by United Church of God
Previous articles in this series covered the meaning of the first three of the horsemen of Revelation—religious deception, war and famine. What does the fourth, the pale green horse and its rider, signify?
Illustration: Sherwin Schwartzrock & Jonathan Koelsch
One can only imagine the worldwide impact to come from the culmination of the ride of the pale horseman. The world has seen relatively mild precursors.
Disease travels in tandem with fear. While the first can lead to the death of thousands, the second can unravel the social fabric, disrupting the precarious balance of relationships essential for the stability of nations.
The most recent disease fear was SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed hundreds last year and panicked thousands more. Before that it was AIDS, which has killed tens of millions and even today is still decimating the populations of some countries. Tomorrow it could be another, even greater plague to sweep across the landscape, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
In this series we have been examining each of the first four seals of Revelation 6. These seals, dramatically depicted by four horsemen, show the effect of false religion, war, famine and plague among the earth’s population in the days leading to the return of Jesus Christ.
Each of these seals represents powerful forces that devastate human life on the earth. The cumulative effect will lead to such conditions that if Jesus Christ did not intervene and cut short the time of trial, “no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:22).
We now come to the fourth seal, the fourth horseman, and his ride of death by plague. How will the ride of this horseman affect the nations of the earth?
The ride of the fourth horseman
Revelation 6:7-8 tells us this about the fourth seal: “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him.”
The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says this about the color of the fourth horse: “ ‘Pale’ ( chloros ) denotes a yellowish green, the light green of a plant, or the paleness of a sick person in contrast to a healthy appearance.” Put bluntly, this horse is the color of death .
In Jesus’ parallel prophecy in Matthew 24, He explained that in the wake of religious deception, war and famine would come with “pestilences” or disease epidemics (Matthew 24:7).
The seals have a cumulative effect. False religion causes instability within relationships leading to war. Famine follows war, and when malnourishment occurs and social systems break down, human beings are more susceptible to disease. These seals depict the ferocity of problems unleashed on the world in the lead-up to “the Day of the Lord.”
There would be other calamities as well. Jesus also listed in the same context “earthquakes in various places” (Matthew 24:7). “Plague” in Scripture denotes not only pestilence but also other calamities in nature that God uses to punish a disobedient humanity. Of course, any such calamities make populations that much riper for the spread of disease epidemics.
The latter part of Revelation 6:8, speaking of all four horsemen, states: “And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth to kill with sword, with hunger, with death and by the beasts of the earth.”
By the time the fourth horseman completes his ride, a fourth of earth’s inhabitants will experience incredible devastation. The death toll will be unlike any from plague and disease in human history.
To understand how bad it can be, let’s go back and look at some of the great plagues of history.
The Black Death
Perhaps the most famous plague in history is the Black Death of the 14th century, thought by most to have been bubonic plague. Estimates are that more than 20 million people (a third to half of Europe’s population) died in the outbreak.
In 1346, reports reached Europe of a devastating disease from China that was affecting many parts of Asia. The next year a mysterious disease appeared in Italy. Ships from the Black Sea sailed into Messina with sailors infected with black boils in their armpits and groins. It was the bubonic plaque.
The disease was so lethal that people were known to go to bed well and die before waking. There were two types of this plague. The first was internal, causing swelling and internal bleeding. This was spread by contact. The second concentrated in the lungs and spread by coughing airborne germs. There was no known prevention or cure.
Whole towns were depopulated. The social structure completely broke down.
Parents abandoned children; husbands and wives left each other to die. In many cases no one was around to bury the dead, both from fear of contagion and lack of concern. One writer of the time tells of observing 5,000 bodies lying dead in a field.
In that age, the Bible was the primary means to measure any natural calamity. The only way to understand what was happening was to believe the world was coming to an end. There seemed no hope for the future.
The bubonic plague has appeared in more recent times as well. The Great Plague of London in 1664-65 resulted in more than 70,000 deaths in a population estimated at 460,000. An outbreak in Canton and Hong Kong in 1894 left 80,000 to 100,000 dead, and within 20 years the disease spread from the southern Chinese ports throughout the whole world, resulting in more than 10 million deaths.
The plague came to America from Asia in 1899. Today cases are still reported, and an average of 15 people die each year. The disease originates in rodents and is usually transmitted to people by fleas, although animal bites can also be the means of transmission. It is still a virulent disease. As few as 10 bubonic plague cells can cause a person’s death.
Perhaps disease transmission from rodents is part of what Revelation 6:8 means by death from “the beasts of the earth.” Microbial and viral infection could also be intended.
Throughout its history, plague has been used as an offensive weapon against populations. The Mongols would catapult plague-infested corpses over the walls of besieged cities.
Thousands would die as the disease spread through the walled-in population.
During World War II, Japan dropped plague-infested fleas on China. American research growing out of the war experience led to a decades-long research project at Fort Detrick, Maryland, proving that biological warfare was a feasible method of waging war.
In 1969 U.S. President Richard Nixon ordered the research stopped, and in 1972 the United States signed a treaty with 70 other nations outlawing the production, stockpiling and use of biological weapons as a means of war. Despite this treaty, it is known that many nations, rich and poor alike, have developed biological weapons.
The former Soviet Union conducted a sophisticated effort to manufacture biological weapons during the Cold War years. For years scientists researched ways to genetically alter bubonic plague so as to make it resistant to many forms of modern treatment.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, the tracking and inventory of all this work has been a great concern. The United States and its allies fear that some of it could have fallen into the hands of terrorist groups and could one day be used against them.
After the first Gulf War in 1991, weapons inspectors confirmed that Iraq had developed biological weapons and had even equipped some warheads with germs to use against Saddam Hussein’s enemies. The location of these weapons since that time is part of the unsolved mystery of that regime. Could some of them be in the hands of al-Qaeda or some other radical Islamic group, waiting to be used on the West?
Are nations prepared?
Today America and the West brace themselves for further attacks from terrorist groups. What is perhaps feared most is a biological attack with smallpox or some other widely communicable germ. Experts know that the West is woefully under prepared for such an attack.
In June 2001, the Center for Strategic and International Studies hosted a senior-level war game examining the security challenges of a biological attack on the American homeland.
The premise was the appearance of a case of smallpox in Oklahoma City, rapidly spreading throughout the country. Among the lessons learned from the exercise: “An attack on the United States with biological weapons could threaten vital national security interests.
Massive civilian casualties, breakdown in essential institutions, violation of democratic processes, civil disorder, loss of confidence in government and reduced U.S. strategic flexibility abroad are among the ways a biological attack might compromise U.S. security” (www.homelandsecurity.org).
Other estimates say that within days a million people would be dead and two to three times that many infected. No one knows what lies out there waiting to be used by groups wishing other nations harm. We only know that it could happen.
Naturally caused disease
Beyond the human-engineered biowarfare, another type of pestilence is waiting as well. This one lurks quietly in the background and could erupt at any time, say scientists who study the subject.
“Eighty years ago a sudden mutation in the virus that causes influenza initiated a worldwide epidemic that in only 18 months killed an estimated 25 to 40 million people around the world. Many consider this to be the worst natural disaster in history” (Hillary Johnson, “Killer Flu,” Rolling Stone , Jan. 22, 1998) . Some historians feel this epidemic hastened the end of World War I.
Scientists studying infectious diseases have sounded warnings that this could occur again.
One expert, W.I.B. Beveridge, says, “There is no known reason why there should not be another catastrophic pandemic like that of 1918 or even worse. The flu always has the capability of becoming a global plague: a spark in a remote corner of the world could start a fire that scorches us all. Should a super flu like that of 1918 make a comeback now that the population has quadrupled and more than a million people cross international boundaries on jets each day, experts say it could kill hundreds of millions” (ibid.).
Influenza is one of the most underrated biomedical hazards in today’s world. It’s possible that new super strains may already be evolving. Medical science takes eight months or more to create a vaccine once a new strain appears. Researchers know they cannot stop a pandemic. By the time authorities understand what is happening, it would be too late to spare millions.
Last year’s outbreak of SARS was rapidly identified and its genetic makeup fully decoded in a matter of weeks. Scientists from around the world worked together using the latest technology and communication tools to make this breakthrough. By contrast, it took several years to do the same with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) when it first surfaced more than 20 years ago.
However, it could take years to develop a viable vaccine to combat SARS. In the meantime other mutant strains are waiting to jump the species barrier from animals to humans. When they do, the results could be catastrophic. A breakdown caused by war in one part of the world, coupled with an outbreak of influenza, as in World War I, would be all it would take to set in motion a disease pandemic on the scale of those described in the book of Revelation.
The seals in context
When we look at the four seals of Revelation 6, we have to understand them in the context of God’s age-long message to mankind. False religion, war, famine and disease are the results of man’s broken relationship with Him. And when these horsemen make their rides, it will be after repeated warning and pleading from God to turn from sin and live righteously based on His eternal law of love toward God and man.
When God first set ancient Israel in a land of promise, He gave them instruction on how to live and conduct their affairs in a way that would bring peace and harmony. God wanted them to live with blessing and abundance, not suffering and misery. In His basic instruction, our Creator explained how to avoid the problems that will devastate the world with the opening of these seals.
Notice the pattern set in Leviticus 26: “You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 26:1).
Here is the solution to false religion, represented by the first seal and its horseman. Any form of worship other than that given by God is a false idol having no value or validity. Lacking meaning or sense, it is worse than nothing because it leads to willful ignorance and lack of understanding of the true God and His purpose for human life.
False religion and deception breaks the bond between God and His creation and leads to false systems of religion. When this bond is broken, human relationships suffer, leading to conflict and war, represented by the second of the seals.
Verse 6 says: “I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid.” This peace, in contrast to the second horsemen of war, is a gift from God when man obeys Him from the heart and puts His laws and ways first.
“If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit” (Leviticus 26:3-4). For obedience, God promises the opposite of the third horseman of famine—plenty of food from abundant harvests.
And the antidote to the fourth horseman of disease? When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He told them: “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26). However, if they disobeyed and broke the covenant, they could expect disease to afflict them, their families and their nation.
Notice: “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God … the Lord will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from the land into which you go to possess. The Lord will smite you with consumption, with fever and inflammation … and the tumors, the scurvy and the itch, from which you cannot be healed. The Lord will smite you with madness and blindness and dismay of [mind and] heart” (Deuteronomy 28:15, Deuteronomy 28:21-22, Deuteronomy 28:27-28, Amplified Bible).
Bound within the promises of blessings and curses is the larger context for the four seals of Revelation 6. The human race is bound to its Creator in a relationship that will reach a conclusion. God will accomplish His purpose of “bringing many sons to glory” (Hebrews 2:10). Mankind eventually will come face to face with God and admit that He is the one and only true God.
The book of Revelation shows God’s merciful intervention in human affairs to both correct and save man from destruction. God will bring justice to the earth, but first there will be a time of unparalleled tribulation.
The fifth horseman
Not so long ago the world experienced something resembling panic with the sudden appearance of the SARS virus. In Hong Kong all places of entertainment were temporarily shut down. Cities such as Toronto were put on a warning list as possible places to avoid due to the spread of SARS cases.
The world media machine contributed to both an awareness of the disease and a fear that, in the end, proved to be out of proportion to the danger posed by the virus. However, the economic impact due to decreased tourist and business travel had a significant effect on many areas.
One can only imagine the worldwide impact to come from the culmination of the ride of the pale horseman. The world has seen relatively mild precursors. What will happen when modern communications and travel allow people to see literally millions of deaths?
Which brings us to the only hope this world has to survive this devastating stampede. People commonly refer to these four seals as “the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” Because the last word here is often synonymous with global destruction, there is typically no hope in this reference. But “Apocalypse” is simply the Greek name of the book of Revelation—meaning “revealing” or “unveiling.” And this book reveals more than the gloom and doom that lie at the end of the age.
Indeed, John saw more than four horsemen in his vision. He saw five. Revelation 19:11-16 shows us the ride of the fifth horseman. It is the appearance of Jesus Christ, on a white horse from heaven, intervening in world affairs at its most crucial point. In our final article in this series, we will focus on this “horseman of hope,” the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, whose appearance will bring an everlasting Kingdom of truth, peace, plenty and ultimate well-being.
Disease Pandemics Are Coming
It’s unpleasant to think about, but the Bible’s prophetic warnings are clear. Will they affect you?
BY FRED DATTOLO
FROM THE MARCH 2005 TRUMPET PRINT EDITION
What comes to mind when you think of “the four horsemen of the apocalypse”? A far-fetched fantasy? Biblical imagery that no one could possibly understand? Something that shouldn’t concern us for a long time to come?
The truth is, the galloping hoof beats of the four horses are getting ever louder and closer, because their riders are fast approaching the culmination of their ride!
The four horsemen are depicted in the book of Revelation chapter 6 as the first four of seven “seals.” These seals are benchmarks of end-time events leading up to and including the return of Jesus Christ. John witnessed these vivid events in a vision sent by God the Father to Jesus Christ, who gave it to an angel to reveal to John (Revelation 1:1). Then John, as he was instructed, recorded what he saw (verse 19) in brilliant prophetic imagery.
Together, these legendary horsemen are prophesied “to kill with sword [warfare], with hunger [famine], with death [pestilence and disease], and by the beasts of the earth” to the extent that one fourth of mankind will be slain! (Revelation 6:8, New King James Version throughout). That’s a minimum of 1.6 billion people who will not escape the stampede!
We can understand this vision because the Bible interprets itself. The seven seals are interpreted in the most important prophecy Jesus Christ delivered while He was on Earth—the Olivet prophecy, found in Matthew 24 (with parallel accounts in Mark 13 and Luke 21). The meaning of the first four of these seals—the four horsemen—is revealed in Matthew 24:3-8.
The first horseman rides the white horse and represents religious deception. This horseman is not, as many believe, Jesus Christ, but in fact Satan the devil, disguising himself as Christ (Matthew 24:5; read also 2 Corinthians 11:13-15). That’s why multiple millions of people are deceived by false Christianity! The second horseman, riding the red horse, pictures worldwide warfare (Matthew 24:6 and verse 7, first part). The horseman riding the black horse signifies famine.
Widespread disease epidemics and pandemics are symbolized by the fourth horseman, which rides the pale, or pallid green, horse. (The Greek word translated as “pale” in Revelation 6:8 is chloros, and it is usually translated as “green.”) In this article we assess the dire, unprecedented and imminent threat that the fourth horseman poses!
Less than 30 years ago, hiv (human immunodeficiency virus) was generally unheard of and aids (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) was not in our vocabulary. Today, according to numerous sources, about one out of every 100 people on the planet is infected with hiv/aids. It has already claimed 25 million lives, and each year is adding about 3 million to that total. The disease has plagued Africa most of all, especially sub-Saharan Africa, where life expectancy has plunged from 62 to 47 years. Now it is rapidly spreading in the rest of the world.
Dr. Richard Feachem, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, stressed that in India, aids is developing into a “catastrophic epidemic” and that “the Indian epidemic is rapidly becoming the largest epidemic in the world” (Agence France Presse, May 11, 2004). aids is also raging in China and Russia. Since the average time from hiv infection to actual symptoms of aids is 10 years, the pandemic currently spreading may be from infection rates of 10 years ago. In the near future, this killer disease is set to explode onto the scene in other nations too.
aids is a result, primarily, of fornication and adultery (whether homosexual or heterosexual); sin always has consequences sooner or later (see Galatians 6:7). Being promiscuous is playing with fire! The hiv virus is extremely durable and, like other viruses, mutates to fight and defeat the drugs that are launched against it. Dr. Martin S. Hirsch, director of clinical aids research at Massachusetts General Hospital, stressed that “the unruly aids virus has succeeded at evolving and mutating every time scientists and drug makers have attempted to outwit it” (Contra Costa Times, California, Aug. 9, 2002).
Barring widespread repentance, the fourth horseman will continue to wreak havoc through hiv/aids, which will most likely intensify. Yet this is just one of the horseman’s weapons. He is soon to unleash a deadly arsenal of devastating diseases that are already germinating, for example, in the animal kingdom.
“By the Beasts of the Earth”
Notice that the “beasts of the earth” will have a part to play (Revelation 6:8). This refers to animals literally attacking humans for food. On the heels of warfare and famine, food will be scarce for animals too. Moreover, animals such as rats and skunks that become weak and diseased could spread rabies, for example, to household pets, further endangering humans.
In the original Greek, the phrase “by the beasts of the earth” can also refer to animal-borne disease that passes on to humans. Thus, the pale horse spreads its deadly curse through yet another phenomenon.
The mad cow disease scare started in Britain in the late 1980s. The disease is more accurately known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (bse) because it destroys brain tissue (encephalopathy means disease of the brain) and causes the brain to look like a sponge. Scientists generally agree that the disease is caused by infectious forms of prions (a type of protein).
These deformed prions are extant in other animal populations as well. Consequently, various forms of spongiform encephalopathies could soon become endemic. In deer and elk, the disease is known as chronic wasting disease. In sheep, it’s called scrapie. Other animals, such as monkeys and cats, can also be affected by prion diseases. In humans, defective prions are thought to cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (cjd)—a devastating illness resulting in progressive dementia, loss of coordination and sometimes blindness or loss of speech.
One way to contract a “variant” form of cjd is to eat beef infected with bse. Although cjd is relatively rare to this point, the incubation period (time it takes to become ill after eating the infected beef) is thought to be about 12 years, although some doctors have maintained it could take up to 50 years. It has only been about 16 years since the first major outbreak of bse in Britain. In any case, cjd may be misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease or various other types of brain diseases. Scientists also admit that there is the possibility of shorter incubation periods with different strains of spongiform encephalopathies that may yet emerge.
Since infectious prions can accumulate in the brain and spinal cord, many countries require these and other select parts to be removed from slaughtered animals. But a troubling report out of Switzerland recently published in the journal Science disclosed that the diseased prions can travel to other organs as well. “This [means] that cows and sheep infected with prions could harbor [mad cow] disease in any inflamed organ” (New York Times, January 21; emphasis mine throughout).
So while the number of confirmed cjd cases is still relatively small, there are several reasons to be concerned—not the least of which is this prophecy directed to the disobedient descendants of Israel (primarily Britain and the U.S.): “Cursed shall be … the increase of your cattle …” (Deuteronomy 28:18). This prophecy, along with that of the fourth horseman inflicting animal diseases onto humans, indicates that mad cow disease and cjd—which is always fatal—will yet cause many more deaths.
Recently, another animal-borne disease in the news has caused quite a stir. Let’s understand why.
The virus identified as h5n1 first emerged in 1997 in Hong Kong. Since then it has spread primarily through poultry in Vietnam, Thailand and other Asian countries. It is popularly known as the avian virus or bird flu.
Last year, the Medical Research Council in London revealed that the deadly Spanish flu of 1918 started in birds. What has caught the attention of infectious-disease experts around the world is that the bird flu virus is evolving in much the same way as did the Spanish flu virus, which, according to some, infected half of the world’s population at the time! Estimates vary, but that flu felled between 20 and 50 million people—roughly two to five times as many as perished in World War i.
Historically, global flu pandemics rage every 25 years or so. There were three such influenza outbreaks in the 20th century—the last of which occurred in 1968. The fact that we are noticeably overdue for another one, plus the striking similarities of the bird flu to the Spanish flu, has many infectious-disease specialists alarmed. Densely populated countries where millions live close to farm animals, combined with the extensive travel propensities of our modern age, have many talking about a pandemic threat that could be deadlier than the Spanish flu.
Despite valiant efforts to cull diseased and nearby poultry (some 100 million birds were destroyed), the bird flu has now spread to wild birds and ducks and has also infected pigs, cats and other mammals. Since ducks and some migratory birds can carry the virus without being affected and don’t show any symptoms, “hope of stamping out this largest avian flu outbreak in history has dimmed” (ScientificAmerican.com, January 10).
So far, those who have died from the bird flu have been infected through poultry or other animals. According to most experts, however, it is highly probable that the bird flu virus will mix with a human flu virus by exchanging genetic material and mutate into a new strain that is transmissible between humans. This exchange could happen inside an infectious animal that is susceptible to both the human flu and bird flu, like the pig. Or it could occur in a child with human flu whose healthy-looking pet duck gives him the bird flu virus. Either way, as Dr. Klaus Stohr, global influenza program coordinator for the World Health Organization (who), states, “We have never been as close to pandemic as we are now; that’s the generic assessment of all the experts and also the assessment of the who” (Herald Sun, Melbourne, Sept. 24, 2004).
It’s not a matter of if it strikes, but of how soon and how bad it will be once it is easily transmissible between humans. Compared to sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which has been successfully contained for now, the bird flu is much more contagious, has a short incubation period and can be transmitted prior to the onset of symptoms. Moreover, sars killed only about 10 percent of its victims, whereas about 75 percent of those infected with the bird flu have died. And the disease does not respect the healthy. Most of the victims were children and young adults in previously good health.
The who forecasts a death toll from the bird flu of up to 7 million people in a best-case scenario and significantly more if the new flu bug is very potent. Tommy Thompson, outgoing U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services, has said it could kill 30 to 70 million people. The low end of that estimate is equivalent to virtually the whole population of Canada! University of Minnesota infectious-disease epidemiologist Michael Osterholm prognosticates that “[e]ven with moderate transmission and fatality rates, this could do in less than a year what hiv took 30 years to do” (Forbes, January 31). That really puts the potential devastation of the bird flu in context!
What about a vaccine? some might ask. Like all vaccines, it must be custom-made to the virus. Since no one knows yet what the bird flu virus will look like once it adapts to human transmission, a vaccine cannot be manufactured in advance. Furthermore, the normal method of making human flu vaccines is to grow the virus inside embryonated chicken eggs, from which the vaccine is produced. Since the bird flu is lethal to chickens, it would kill the chick embryos before the virus could grow. For this reason, a genetically engineered vaccine would need to be prepared, which is even more time-consuming than the traditional method. Millions could be infected before a vaccine became available. According to Osterholm, “We have yawned at influenza year after year. We are going to have a rude awakening” (ibid.).
Return of the Plagues
Animal-borne diseases are just part of the story. The fourth horseman is not limited to that tactic. While bird flu captures the headlines, tuberculosis (tb), for example, has been relentless and continues to be a formidable killer. It has killed more people than any other disease in history. Still today, about 2 million succumb to it each year. Let’s put that in some perspective.
The Asian tsunami of December 2004 claimed almost 300,000 lives, including those missing and presumed dead. tb slaughters the equivalent of seven tsunamis annually. Put another way, every two months, on average more people die from tb than the death toll from the Asian tsunami. To make matters worse, multidrug-resistant tb (mdr-tb) is on the rise. The cure rate for mdr-tb is only about 50 percent, and it’s estimated that 50 million people are currently infected with mdr-tb! In parts of Russia, resistance to the most common drug treatment for tb is nearing 100 percent.
A book titled The Return of the White Plague: Global Poverty and the “New” Tuberculosis addresses the re-emergence of the tb pandemic. It supports a statement of the who estimating that “between 2002 and 2020, approximately 1,000 million [1 billion] people will be newly infected [with tuberculosis] ….” These new multiresistant strains of tb could also spread through the rich countries of the world.
In contrast to the “white plague” of tuberculosis stands the “Black Death” of the Middle Ages. New research shows that even this perhaps most dreaded of all diseases could make a terrifying comeback in the near future. According to Dr. Susan Scott, author of the book Return of the Black Death, this great killer was not a form of bubonic plague, but a life-threatening virus that was spread from person to person. After extensive historical research, she and her colleagues determined that the Black Death is lying dormant, most likely in the animal population of the Third World—and that it could reemerge at any time! Because it probably has an infectious period of three weeks when no symptoms occur, “[t]heir study reveals a new outbreak would spread quickly around the globe causing massive devastation” (Liverpool Daily Echo, May 24, 2004).
Such scenarios frighten medical authorities because they are not mere science fiction. With the tremendous intercontinental air and sea traffic of our age, plus the crumbling infrastructures of metropolitan inner cities and increasing numbers of fleeing international refugees, such diseases could be spread around the world very quickly. In today’s global society, an outbreak could be on the other side of the world within 24 hours.
Not only that, but we also have to contend with the very real prospect of disease that could be imposed upon us by terrorists!
Living bacterial and viral organisms, or the toxins they produce, can be used as biological weapons. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified seven biological agents that are the highest threat to the nation: anthrax, botulinus toxin, plague, ricin, smallpox, tularemia and viral hemorrhagic fevers (such as Ebola). Let’s look briefly at just the first two.
During World War ii, when there was widespread fear that the Axis powers might use germ warfare, Britain conducted limited biological weapons tests. In one test, Gruinard, a remote island off the northwest coast of Scotland, was sprayed with anthrax bacteria in 1942. The targets were sheep, and they began dying within days. Then another problem surfaced. Most biological agents rapidly deteriorate, but not so for dry agents such as anthrax. The anthrax bacteria were so durable that the tiny island was declared unsafe and quarantined. Not until 1986 did efforts to decontaminate it successfully begin. After removing topsoil, flooding the island with a formaldehyde solution and returning sheep to it that subsequently remained healthy, the island was finally declared safe in 1990.
While anthrax poisoning is not contagious, exposure to anthrax spores can kill within three days after the onset of fever, cough, respiratory distress and shock. It would take only about 200 pounds, released into the wind, for a terrorist to murder up to 3 million people in Washington, d.c., for example! The lives lost would be horrendous enough, but the enduring aftereffects would also devastate the region.
The tiny microscopic organism botulinum is in plentiful supply because it is found naturally in the soil and in low-acid foods that spoil. The poison it produces is lethal. In concentrated form, it’s called botulinus toxin and is the deadliest of all naturally occurring biotoxins. Specifically, it is a neurotoxin, which means it destroys nerve cells. After general symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, blurred vision and difficulty swallowing and speaking, there is paralysis, respiratory failure and death—usually within about a week of becoming infected. If an anti-toxin is administered soon enough, the progress of the disease can be stopped—but the physical damage caused by the destruction of nerve cells is irreversible.
Just how dangerous is botulinus toxin? It only takes two-hundredths of a milligram absorbed through the skin, lungs, eyes or mucous membranes to kill an adult! That means that just 1 gallon of pure botulinus toxin can kill over 180 million people. How hard is it to produce a gallon? After the Gulf War of 1991, United Nations inspectors found and destroyed 130,000 gallons of botulinus toxin in Iraq! And how easy is it to use? The toxin “can be delivered from rifle grenades, mortar rounds, artillery rounds, bombs, air-to-ground rockets (e.g., from helicopters), from Scud warheads, from land mines, from sprayers, sprinklers, and aerosol equipment, and from harmless-looking booby traps of various kinds” (Cyberlab Computer Forensics, Feb. 27, 1998). The launch of one Scud missile filled with botulinus toxin could affect an area of at least 1,400 square miles.
There’s also the very real possibility that our food supply could be poisoned with biological agents. Tommy Thompson said, “I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do. … We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East and it would be easy to tamper with that” (New York Times, Dec. 4, 2004). He admitted he worried about threats to the food supply every night!
Can we begin to see the very real danger that mankind faces from biological terrorism? Not only are biological weapons in some ways more dangerous than nuclear weapons, they are far less expensive to produce. Never before could such a few people, with limited means, pose such great devastation.
In this article we have highlighted just a few of the horrifying pandemics that could explode onto the world scene in very short order. In addition to the specter of biological terrorism and the reemergence of dreaded pandemics, researchers have identified more than 30 new untreatable diseases just since 1980. And who knows what other frightening ailments may yet emerge. Conditions are ripe. Major worldwide pandemics are on the verge of breaking through! Exactly how they will form and spread may not be known in great detail, but one thing is sure: The fourth horseman of the apocalypse is not a far-fetched fantasy but a sobering reality that will soon savage hundreds of millions of people.
“So I looked, and behold, a pale [sickly green] horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades [the grave] followed with him” (Revelation 6:8). Not too far away on the horizon, the image of the fourth horseman is clearly visible. The horse is galloping hard, and the rider looks like a living corpse lifted from the grave. He’s coming your way, and it won’t be long before he’s staring you in the face!
Do you truly understand the times you live in? Are you prepared for unparalleled devastation from disease such as the world has never seen? To those who faithfully obey God, He promises that “You shall not be afraid … of the pestilence …. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you” (Psalms 91:5-7). Will you be able to claim that promise, really? Do you have that kind of faith? Don’t be too sure. Request our free booklet What is Faith? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Oral sex producing unstoppable bacteria
By James GallagherHealth and science reporter, BBC News website
Oral sex is producing dangerous gonorrhoea and a decline in condom use is helping it to spread, the World Health Organization says.
It is warning that if you contract gonorrhoea, it is now much harder to treat and in some cases impossible.
The sexually transmitted infection is rapidly developing resistance to antibiotics.
Experts said the situation was “fairly grim” with few new drugs on the horizon.
Around 78 million people pick up the STI each year and it can cause infertility.
The World Health Organization analysed data from 77 countries and it showed gonorrhoea’s resistance to antibiotics was widespread.
Dr Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said there had even been three cases – in Japan, France and Spain – where the infection was completely untreatable.
She said: “Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug, every time you introduce a new class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhoea, the bug becomes resistant.”
Worryingly, the vast majority of gonorrhoea infections are in poor countries where resistance is harder to detect.
“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg,” she added.
Oral sex Gonorrhoea can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, but it is the latter that is most concerning health officials.
Dr Wi said antibiotics could lead to bacteria in the back of the throat, including relatives of gonorrhoea, developing resistance.
She said: “When you use antibiotics to treat infections like a normal sore throat, this mixes with the Neisseria species in your throat and this results in resistance.”
Thrusting gonorrhoea bacteria into this environment through oral sex can lead to super-gonorrhoea.
“In the US, resistance [to an antibiotic] came from men having sex with men because of pharyngeal infection,” she added.
A decline in condom use, which had soared because of fears of HIV/Aids, is thought to help the infection spread.
What is gonorrhoea?
The disease is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoea.
The infection is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Of those infected, about one in 10 heterosexual men and more than three-quarters of women, and gay men, have no easily recognisable symptoms.
But symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating and bleeding between periods.
Untreated infection can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy.
The World Health Organization is calling on countries to monitor the spread of resistant gonorrhoea and to invest in new drugs.
Dr Manica Balasegaram, from the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, said: “The situation is fairly grim.
“There are only three drug candidates in the entire drug [development] pipeline and no guarantee any will make it out.”
But ultimately, the WHO said vaccines would be needed to stop gonorrhoea.
Prof Richard Stabler, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “Ever since the introduction of penicillin, hailed as a reliable and quick cure, gonorrhoea has developed resistance to all therapeutic antibiotics.
“In the past 15 years therapy has had to change three times following increasing rates of resistance worldwide.
“We are now at a point where we are using the drugs of last resort, but there are worrying signs as treatment failure due to resistant strains has been documented.”
|Deuteronomy 28:15-68 New International Version (NIV)
Curses for Disobedience
15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today,all these curses will come on you and overtake you:
16 You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country.
17 Your basket and your kneading trough will be cursed.
18 The fruit of your womb will be cursed, and the crops of your land, and the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.
19 You will be cursed when you come in and cursed when you go out.
20 The Lord will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.[a]21 The Lord will plague you with diseases until he has destroyed you from the land you are entering to possess. 22 The Lord will strike you with wasting disease, with fever and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew, which will plague you until you perish. 23 The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. 24 The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.
25 The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You will come at them from one direction but flee from them in seven,and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth.26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds and the wild animals, and there will be no one to frighten them away. 27 The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured. 28 The Lord will afflict you with madness, blindness and confusion of mind. 29 At midday you will grope about like a blind person in the dark. You will be unsuccessful in everything you do; day after day you will be oppressed and robbed, with no one to rescue you.
30 You will be pledged to be married to a woman, but another will take her and rape her. You will build a house, but you will not live in it. You will plant a vineyard, but you will not even begin to enjoy its fruit. 31 Your ox will be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will eat none of it. Your donkey will be forcibly taken from you and will not be returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies, and no one will rescue them. 32 Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand. 33 A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days. 34 The sights you see will drive you mad. 35 The Lord will afflict your knees and legs with painful boilsthat cannot be cured, spreading from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
36 The Lord will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your ancestors. There you will worship other gods, gods of wood and stone. 37 You will become a thing of horror, a byword and an object of ridicule among all the peoples where the Lord will drive you.
38 You will sow much seed in the field but you will harvest little,because locusts will devour it. 39 You will plant vineyards and cultivate them but you will not drink the wine or gather the grapes, because worms will eat them. 40 You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off. 41 You will have sons and daughters but you will not keep them, because they will go into captivity. 42 Swarms of locusts will take over all your trees and the crops of your land.
43 The foreigners who reside among you will rise above you higher and higher, but you will sink lower and lower. 44 They will lend to you, but you will not lend to them. They will be the head, but you will be the tail.
45 All these curses will come on you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.46 They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. 47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lordsends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.
49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, 50 a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young. 51 They will devour the young of your livestock and the crops of your land until you are destroyed. They will leave you no grain, new wine or olive oil, nor any calves of your herds or lambs of your flocks until you are ruined.52 They will lay siege to all the cities throughout your land until the high fortified walls in which you trust fall down. They will besiege all the cities throughout the land the Lord your God is giving you.
53 Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you. 54 Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children, 55 and he will not give to one of them any of the flesh of his children that he is eating. It will be all he has left because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of all your cities. 56 The most gentle and sensitive woman among you—so sensitive and gentle that she would not venture to touch the ground with the sole of her foot—will begrudge the husband she loves and her own son or daughter57 the afterbirth from her womb and the children she bears. For in her dire need she intends to eat them secretly because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege of your cities.
58 If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the Lord your God— 59 the Lord will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring on you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 61 The Lord will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed. 62 You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. 63 Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.
64 Then the Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods—gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your ancestors have known.65 Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the Lord will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. 66 You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. 67 In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!”—because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see. 68 The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again. There you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.
Footnotes: Deuteronomy 28:20 Hebrew me
None of this is happy news. It’s a warning I (SN) have been occasionally mentioning in my writing since 1976. Our country (the USA) has been responsible for influencing women to have abortions at a rate unknown in any historic time. Such behavior is actually a form of human sacrifice to ancient Sumerian demon gods. The True and Living God has no tolerance for this!
Since the 1970’s the US has been exporting more sexual sin into cultures than ever known. In some societies surveys prove over 90% of the population under age 65 has seen at least one pornographic movie. South East Asia is in love with American sports, American TV daytime dramas, American made violent movies, and American movies that are often rated for their sexual content. Young people think what they see is “just normal” behavior, and they’re paying a high price for their dalliances.
All of these short videos displaying music singing dancers showing off their figures on stage, endless photos of nude girls and guys flirting with them at beaches, hotels, clubs, nearly anywhere – it’s all a sign of a poisoned, sin drenched society!
Collectively, our sins will find us out. What goes around, comes around. What damage we do to others comes back to haunt us 7-times worse, so folk sayings go. Not only does the US see terrible disease potential, presently (summer 2017) the crops reports are some of the worst in US history.
The best way to prevent disease spreading to you is to remove yourself from such society. Avoid sex-play with “cute” strangers, avoid crowds, animals, dirty water – keep your body and clothes clean, wash hands often with soap and apply a good long rubbing particularly to the palms and between fingers. Wipe down counter tops with bleach, or Lysol disinfectant, or Mr. Muscle with Quaternary Ammonium. Keep a clean body and maintain a clean God-Fearing mind.
Finally, read this Bible passage repeatedly until it stays in your general memory.
Revelation 6 New International Version (NIV)
6 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder,“Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.
5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures,saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for a day’s wages,[b] and six pounds[c] of barley for a day’s wages,[d] and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
Luke 21 New International Version (NIV) (read all but particularly see line 36)
The Widow’s Offering
21 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
The Destruction of the Temple and Signs of the End Times
5 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6 “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
7 “Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
8 He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me.18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
25 “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. 26 People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. 27 At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees.30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
32 “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
34 “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
37 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives,38 and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.