Author’s Note: This booklet is part of a unique series covering the subject of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. While each booklet stands alone, the reader will only gain a full understanding if the series is read in the following order, reflecting the sequence described in Revelation 6 and Matthew 24:
Disease, in all its forms, is loathsome to every human being. It has brought untold suffering for millennia to billions of people—many of whom never saw it coming.
Disease epidemics—rapid, widespread outbreaks among many thousands or millions of people—often strike suddenly. Before authorities can react, the damage has been done. Such has been the case all through history.
Of the 59 million people who die each year, approximately half—nearly 30 million—perish from sickness. The world loses the rough equivalent of one nation of Canada every year to disease.
And it is about to get much worse!
Disease will soon alter the course of history in a profound way. The coming disease pandemics will dwarf all that have previously occurred. Hundreds of millions will perish—and this will not only happen in poor, underdeveloped countries. Horrific epidemics, the likes of which have never been seen, will strike the world’s wealthiest nations—which will collapse from the impact. The ensuing chaos will affect you, and all of your loved ones. Everything around you will change for the worse. Your life will be at risk.
The Last Horseman
The fourth and last horse and rider—pestilence—carries a different, broader description, and summarizes the horses riding together: “I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Rev. 6:8).
The word “pale” comes from the Greek word chloros, which indicates the sickly, pale yellow-green color of disease—from which derives the name of yellow chlorine gas.
Coming on the heels of the first three horsemen, the pale horseman’s arrival portends that more hundreds of millions will perish through terrifying disease epidemics. The reference to “Death”—the end result of disease—and “Hell”—hades, meaning the grave—make this clear.
This prospect may seem impossible to believe in this sophisticated modern age—where air travel has allowed man to run “to and fro” across the earth without boundaries (Dan. 12:4)—where the tallest building is nearly half a mile high—and where the Internet has created a global village, connecting every corner of the earth.
This is, however, also a time in which men’s bodies have degenerated through thousands of years of abuse—where “super-diseases” now resist even the strongest antibiotics—and where doctors and scientists no longer speak of if a pandemic is coming, but when.
As modern medicine seeks to conquer disease, civilization is falling further and further behind. Man and his governments have lost control.
Understand. As new diseases emerge and older ones suddenly mutate, modern medicine has fallen far behind in the effort to eradicate them. Today, diseases thought long ago conquered are back with a vengeance. Tuberculosis, cholera and other deadly scourges from the past have re-emerged—this time much more resistant to standard treatments. This, coupled with poor sanitation, war, overcrowding and poverty, is creating environments ripe for the massive spread of sickness.
At the same time, the world has become more interconnected than at any other time in history. The advent of relatively cheap and fast air travel means that more people now travel abroad. More now also travel for vacations and business—increasing their chances of being infected by foreign viruses, or carrying one with them to others. According to noted Swedish pathologist Folke Henschen, “Infectious diseases…have probably been the most dangerous enemies of mankind, much more so than war.” The global threat posed by infectious diseases has never been greater.
Despite man’s best efforts, old scourges such as tuberculosis, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, anthrax and malaria are still very much alive. Add to this the more recent arrivals of Ebola, hantavirus, E. coli, salmonella (currently spreading very quickly), HIV, West Nile and swine flu. Understand that these are just a few of the possible disease epidemics—or pandemics—on the horizon.
To appreciate the potential impact of any one of these, consider HIV. Over 30 million people in the world are HIV positive—and millions more contract the virus every year. To date, more than 25 million have died from AIDS—which originates from HIV—with the prospect of millions more a virtual certainty. Not surprisingly, AIDS has been called “a viral nightmare that ravages all nations and threatens the very existence of our species” (Killer Germs: Microbes and Diseases that Threaten Humanity, Barry E. Zimmerman and David J. Zimmerman).
Now add the threats of biological warfare and bio-terrorism. The prospect of these occurring is simply too horrifying to contemplate. Yet it is very real. Recall that in 2001, multiple cases of anthrax broke out in the U.S. when letters laced with anthrax were sent to news media outlets and congressional offices. The event, widely thought to be an attack by a foreign terrorist, created havoc nationwide.
With all of the biological agents, biological weapons, and terrorists, with their networks in circulation today, the danger of an intentional biological attack is a very real threat. Here, the red and pale horses ride together.
On top of ever-worsening disease epidemics, the world’s resources—including clean air, water and food—are also being stretched to the limit. Wars between desperate countries competing for scarce resources are increasing, both in scope and intensity. War leads to famine, which ultimately results in disease.
Worse Than Ever?
This begs the question: Has it always been this way—or has there been an escalation in the number of disease outbreaks now widespread across the globe?
Health authorities acknowledge that an acceleration is underway—especially within the last 50 years.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, death rates from infectious diseases are rising. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognizes the threat, stating that “we continue to confront new and potentially devastating infectious disease threats.” It has also noted that the threat of an influenza pandemic is “as high as before.” The European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases has also affirmed that infectious diseases are an increasing threat to public health.
Indeed, in the United States, infectious diseases rose by nearly 60 percent from 1980 to 1992 and continue to be one of the leading causes of death in this country. According to leading microbiologist Alexander Tomasz, the onset of an era in which antibiotics are useless would be “nothing short of a medical disaster.”
There are further ominous signs of the peril to come. One-third of the world’s population is currently infected by the germs (bacilli) that cause tuberculosis, and new infections are occurring at the rate of one per second! AIDS is devastating entire regions in sub-Saharan Africa and is spreading rapidly around the world. And AIDS and tuberculosis have linked up, becoming tandem infections, with greater devastating effect.
Scientists estimate that around two billion people, 30 percent of the world’s population, have a form of Staphylococcus aureus. And up to 53 million worldwide are thought to be carrying the deadly superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA – pronounced “Mersa”). They say these strains could “potentially become explosive” in hospitals.
In the United States, outbreaks of waterborne diseases are increasing. Globally, rates of diseases like dengue fever are growing. Outbreaks of insect-transmitted diseases like Chikungunya fever are occurring in unexpected locations and are now a threat to even the U.S.
Diseases long thought conquered are proving more difficult to treat. This is true of a new more lethal form of C. difficile, which is more resistant to drug treatments and can cause a potentially fatal strain of diarrhea. This is but the briefest of glances at the growing predicament facing the world.
How Did We Get Here?
Man has battled disease for as long as there has been civilization. Soon after Creation, human beings encountered microbes that infected their drinking water, food and environment.
As men built cities and began to live in more confined spaces, the risk of outbreaks increased. One of the earliest-known diseases was tuberculosis. Spread from person to person through the air, tuberculosis was even found in ancient Egypt.
As trade between nations increased, diseases often proliferated along commercial routes. The impact on those who had not previously known such diseases was disastrous. Illnesses such as influenza and the bubonic plague, which spread from Asia to Europe, were two such examples, as was cholera, an intestinal disease believed to have originated in India. After cholera’s inception, millions died, and the disease went on to spread across the Middle East, Europe, China, North Africa and Japan. Eventually, it even reached as far as England and the United States.
During the Age of Exploration in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, advances in shipbuilding and navigation made it possible for explorers to visit foreign lands and develop new territories. This also contributed to the spread of various diseases. One of the most deadly of these was smallpox, which killed perhaps as many as 5 million people worldwide from AD 165 to 180 in the Antonine Plague, with as many as 5,000 per day purportedly dying in Rome alone.
When Europeans arrived in the New World in the fifteenth century, they unwittingly brought smallpox with them. This and other diseases wiped out up to 90 to 95 percent of the indigenous native population.
Despite the development of vaccines, smallpox killed between 300 and 500 million people during the twentieth century alone. Consider. Far more were killed by just this disease than by the gun!
Another of the oldest-known diseases still taking a tremendous toll today is malaria. Carried by mosquitoes, malaria was mentioned in ancient Chinese and Egyptian writings as far back as 4,000 years ago, with the Greeks also describing its devastating effects. Malaria is also thought to have been a factor in the fall of the Roman Empire.
But God never intended for man to live this way, stating in III John 2, “I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” After creating Adam and Eve, He said that all of His Creation was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). This leaves no room for God having placed hidden, inactive viruses and bacteria within their bodies, waiting for the right moment to afflict them with horrible sickness and disease of every kind. Man did this to himself—inviting disease as the natural consequence of broken laws. My booklets God’s Principles of Healthful Living and The Truth About Healing will open your eyes to what God always intended.
All man’s efforts to cure diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, blindness, deafness, Alzheimer’s (and other diseases of the mind), strokes, AIDS, and a host of infant and childhood diseases have failed. Add to this the ongoing quest for new wonder drugs, treatments, specialized diagnoses, surgeries and procedures, breakthroughs in technology—and every other kind of medical advancement thus far. Again, all efforts have ultimately failed!
A Present Crisis
Hardly a week goes by without reports of another disease outbreak somewhere in the world. News headlines such as the following are commonplace: “Rift Valley Fever Hits South Africa,” “New Strains of Lyme Disease Bacteria Identified, Study Claims,” “AIDS Remains the World’s Worst Epidemic,” “Dengue Fever Surges in the Americas.”
Officials worldwide are now reporting the resurgence of dengue fever. Once a rare disease, it is spreading around the world at an alarming rate. So much so that it has become a major international public health concern. In fact, dengue is a leading cause of hospitalization and death of children in many countries.
The potential for disaster is immense, with 2.5 billion people living in areas where this virus has been transmitted. In fact, an additional 50 to 100 million are already known to be infected by dengue every year. Although it is not yet the fatal hemorrhagic strain, once the disease enters the pandemic level—and there is every indication this could happen—there is greatly increased potential for it to mutate in this direction.
It is now even affecting the U.S., which has never seen such a surge. In the past, dengue had always remained outside American borders. But in the last few years, it has slowly been migrating north, and is now found across Central America and some American border states. According to health authorities, dengue cases in the Americas have increased almost fivefold over the past 30 years, skyrocketing from 2.7 million cases in the 1990s to 4.8 million between the years 2000 and 2007.
This has alarmed authorities on the Texas border, who have also seen a higher number of cases, as has Florida. Puerto Rico also has been suffering, and has now declared a dengue fever epidemic.
Dengue fever is just one of dozens of diseases that health authorities report are increasing! These and other rapidly spreading illnesses paint a grisly picture! Even more dangerous diseases lurk in the shadows. Yet, with dwindling numbers of doctors and nurses entering the medical profession, there is even greater heightened alarm about the nation’s ability to combat them.
The Wall Street Journal reported, “Experts warn there won’t be enough doctors to treat the millions of people newly insured under the [universal healthcare] law. At current graduation and training rates, the [U.S.] could face a shortage of as many as 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.”
Compounding the problem, widespread wars have resulted in influxes of thousands into refugees camps, most of which feature conditions that can only be described as absolute squalor—fertile breeding grounds for disease.
Then there are the polluted overcrowded cities, which often result in contaminated water—which is drunk by most residents. The United Nations estimates that more than half of all hospitalizations are as a result of people not having access to clean water.
Children are among those most affected. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, of the estimated 6.8 billion people on Earth, 2.6 billion—almost 40 percent—“live without access to even a toilet at home and thus are vulnerable to a range of health risks.” This lack of access to proper sanitation, including clean water, “is a major cause of diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, and leads to other major diseases such as cholera, schistosomiasis, and trachoma.”
Add to this rampant immorality, which has caused an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases, with a host of devastating effects.
As an example of an unprecedented catastrophe still unfolding as of this writing, monsoon rains left 20 percent of Pakistan underwater in the summer of 2010—an area larger than the entire nation of England. Some areas by then had already received 180 percent of the normal precipitation for the whole season. Twenty million Pakistanis have lost their homes, with 3.5 million children at severe risk of infection by cholera and other rapidly spreading diseases. Millions face starvation.
Aside from the flooding, the situation is worsened by a slow dispatch of international aid, due to the global economic downturn and the way the crisis has intensified gradually, rather than arriving in a single dramatic event such as an earthquake or a tsunami. Add to this an already fragile government being further destabilized, with opportunistic terrorist groups, as well as the Pakistani military, taking advantage of the situation and compounding the mayhem.
So obviously this world is in serious trouble. Mankind is teetering on the edge of global disease catastrophe!
Although skeptics say that great global pandemics could not happen again because of improved hygiene and sterilization, this is wishful thinking. Some bacteria have become resistant to antibacterial soaps, and now need stronger and stronger chemicals to kill them. Then there are others that scientists are not able to conquer at all.
Because of this and other factors, epidemiologists and infectious disease experts report that the threat from infectious diseases is increasing: “Infectious disease clearly represents a threat to human security in that it has the potential to affect both the person and his or her ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness,” a Rand Corporation study stated. It added, “In addition to threatening the health of an individual, the spread of disease can weaken public confidence in government’s ability to respond, have an adverse economic impact, undermine a state’s social order, catalyze regional instability, and pose a strategic threat through bioterrorism and/or biowarfare.”
This prominent research company went on to outline the enormity of the problem facing the world. Consider this: “...The magnitude and nature of the threat is growing because of the emergence of new illnesses such as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), Ebola, and hepatitis C; the increasing inability of modern medicine to respond to resistant and emerging pathogens; and the growing threat of bioterrorism and biowarfare. In addition, human actions amplify these trends by putting us in ever-greater contact with deadly microbes. Globalization, modern medical practices, urbanization, climatic change, and changing social and behavioral patterns all serve to increase the chance that individuals will come in contact with diseases, which they may not be able to survive.
“The AIDS crisis in South Africa provides a disturbing example of how a pathogen can affect security at all levels, from individual to regional and even to global. Approximately one-quarter of the adult population in South Africa is Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) positive, with the disproportionate burden of illness traditionally falling on the most economically and personally productive segment of society. The true impact of the AIDS epidemic is yet to be felt. Deaths from full-blown AIDS are not projected to peak until the period between 2009 and 2012, and the number of HIV infections is still increasing.”
Significantly worsening pestilence—disease epidemics—are yet another confirmation that the “end of the age” is upon us.
For the first time in nearly a century, widespread disease epidemics are once again knocking at the doors of America and Europe, as was evidenced by the 2009 swine flu outbreak.
According to one epidemiologist, influenza is the biggest infectious disease threat in the world at this time.
An August 2009 report for the United States President affirmed the expert’s predictions. According to statistics, just this disease alone could infect 30 to 50 percent of the U.S. population—about 90 to 150 million. Authorities reported the H1N1 strain could also:
- Cause 1.8 million U.S. hospital admissions during an epidemic, with up to 300,000 patients requiring treatment from intensive care units.
- Kill 30,000 to 90,000 in the United States in a typical winter flu season, concentrated among children and young adults.
- “Pose especially high risks for individuals with certain pre-existing conditions, including pregnant women and patients with neurological disorders or respiratory impairment, diabetes, or severe obesity and possibly for certain populations, such as Native Americans.”
Reports from the first wave of the H1N1 pandemic revealed that a number of hospitals were swamped with patients in need of emergency care.
On average, swine flu victims required “12 days of mechanical ventilation and frequent use of rescue therapies such as high-frequency oscillatory ventilation, prone positioning, neuromuscular blockade, and inhaled nitric oxide” (Journal of the American Medical Association).
Think! What would happen if 90,000 Americans required the same treatments—just for this type of influenza—living their last days in hospitals? U.S. hospitals would be unable to keep up with the long lines of patients that would be knocking on their doors.
Cases in Britain doubled to 100,000 in one week in July 2009! The virus has had such a significant impact on the country that within minutes of opening, the National Pandemic Flu service website crashed.
Yet the initial estimated figures failed to come to pass. Due to this, many people have already forgotten about the potential death toll.
Still, H1N1 continued to spread. A map of infected areas shows that cases have stricken almost all corners of the world. So far, the only places where H1N1 has not been confirmed are Greenland, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, and several smaller African nations.
“Dr Alan Hay, director of the London-based World Influenza Centre, said the extensive summer outbreak in Britain had not followed expected patterns and warned the Department of Health needed to be prepared for a more deadly form of the disease” (Guardian).
Public health professor Dr. John Powell added, “There are enormous parallels with 1918 and our current pandemic. They are spreading at a similar rate, but we don’t know if the virus will mutate. If it does, this is when it could become very dangerous” (Daily Mail).
To many, these numbers seem impossible—up to 90,000 Americans dead in under a year? Those below age 50 have never experienced even the possibility of a pandemic so devastating. Typically, about 40,000 die of all forms of the flu in the U.S. for a whole year.
Without firsthand experience of a nationwide disease pandemic, many can only look to history to understand the type of disease prophesied to come upon the world—and especially the modern nations of Israel—in their lifetime.
For perspective, we turn to the worst recorded flu pandemic of all time: the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak. Up to 675,000 in the U.S. were killed—along with between 40 and 100 million worldwide.
What Past Pandemics Reveal
Past pandemics demonstrated an ability to strike quickly—almost literally overnight—overwhelming medical services. Such was the 1918 Spanish Influenza.
This early twentieth-century pandemic started much the same as the one in 2009. Three years before the 1918 virus took its worst toll, it first surfaced in birds, according to the CDC.
From 1915 to 1916, the United States suffered a catastrophic respiratory disease epidemic, which significantly increased the death toll resulting from pneumonia and influenza complications. Although mortality rates decreased by 1917, the populace’s weakened immune systems paved the way for the pandemic’s first wave in March 1918.
The pandemic continued in three stages over a 12-month period: the first wave reached Europe, the U.S. and Asia in late spring and summer; a second—and more deadly—strain appeared approximately six months later, wiping out entire families from September to November 1918; and a third wave struck in the early spring of 1919.
Unlike most viruses, which normally affect the very young, the weak and the elderly, the 1918 influenza targeted healthy adults between the ages of 20 and 40. Victims suffocated as their immune systems broke down, filling their lungs with a reddish liquid, which often bubbled out of them as they died.
In 1918, many churches in America closed, schools also closed, the government banned public meetings, businesses collapsed from lack of customers, state institutions became overrun with orphaned children, and infected postal carriers were unable to deliver mail. Heaps of rancid garbage lined city streets. Decomposing bodies overflowed from morgues and had to be stored in nearby elementary schools. Wherever people ventured, the smell of rotting flesh haunted them.
Imagine this and the following horrific scenarios playing out today—unfolding on the very streets of your hometown. Imagine the disease taking someone close to you—an acquaintance, co-worker, friend or family member.
A letter written by a military doctor on September 29, 1918, described the dreadful conditions at Fort Devens, near Boston: “These men start with what appears to be an attack of la grippe or influenza, and when brought to the hospital they very rapidly develop the most viscous type of pneumonia that has ever been seen. Two hours after admission they have the mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you can begin to see the cyanosis extending from their ears and spreading all over the face, until it is hard to distinguish the coloured men from the white. It is only a matter of a few hours then until death comes, and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.”
Later he wrote, “It takes special trains to carry away the dead. For several days there were no coffins and the bodies piled up something fierce, we used to go down to the morgue...and look at the boys laid out in long rows. It beats any sight they ever had in France after a battle. An extra long barracks has been vacated for the use of the morgue, and it would make any man sit up and take notice to walk down the long lines of dead soldiers all dressed up and laid out in double rows” (PBS).
One pandemic survivor recounted the bodies that stacked up in Vancouver, Canada: “The undertaking parlours couldn’t handle the bodies as people died...they were having to use school auditoriums and places like that to store bodies temporarily” (The Canadian Press).
In the book Flu: The Story of the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and the Search for the Virus That Caused It, Gina Kolata, a reporter for The New York Times, stated that if the Spanish Influenza were to strike the U.S. now, it would have devastating results: “If such a plague came today, killing a similar fraction of the U.S. population, 1.5 million Americans would die, which is more than the number felled in a single year by heart disease, cancers, strokes, chronic pulmonary disease, AIDS, and Alzheimer’s disease combined.”
Most experts put this estimate much higher. Remember, these numbers are specific to a highly stable, First World nation. Imagine the multiple hundreds of millions who could die worldwide.
This pandemic—and the virus that caused it—is just one of many that have left their mark on society. Here is another.
The Black Death
You have probably heard that “The past is prologue.” Pandemics of massive proportions can—and will—happen again.
One of the deadliest diseases in history was the Black Death—which reached virtually all parts of the world from AD 1347 to 1350. This pandemic was thought to be brought by the same bacteria that caused the bubonic plague! In Mediterranean Europe—including large countries such as Italy, France and Spain—between one-third and three-quarters of the population died. In China, one-third perished, as was also the case in the Middle East. Many, many nations were affected. The death toll worldwide was estimated at up to a staggering 200 million, or possibly half the world’s population at the time. Europe’s population alone took a century and a half—150 years!—to recover. Tremendous religious, social and economic upheavals were triggered, which had a profound impact on the course of world history.
Most are unaware that famine afflicted many areas of the world prior to the plague, and thus set it up. Also, extreme violence and truly bizarre behavior accompanied a general pandemonium in society that always surrounds widespread disease outbreaks. And scapegoats were needed. Jews and others were attacked. Thousands of Jews were burned at the stake—20,000 in just one city. It became every man for himself, including authority figures who almost all bailed out into isolation in the countryside. This included noblemen, generals, civil officials and even the pope.
All this from just one pandemic!
Although a number of theories exist regarding the Black Death, many medical historians believe it was the result of a combination of two deadly diseases: bubonic plague (spread by rats) and possibly anthrax (spread by cattle).
In his book, In the Wake of the Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made, author Norman F. Cantor explains in graphic detail how the plague affected individuals as it spread in three waves across the continent, similar to the Spanish Influenza: “All over Western Europe commoners were buried in mass graves with bodies stacked horizontally five layers deep. Archeologists have discovered such layered mass graves in many places, including central London. Since the earth covering the mass graves was thin, the stench rising from the cemeteries was initially unbearable.”
Do not be lulled into thinking that such pestilence could not happen today. Jesus Christ said it will!
Graham Mooney of Johns Hopkins University told The History Channel, “There’s absolutely no way that organized health systems could cope with an epidemic of the proportions of the black plague.” Another disease expert stated that there is no medical “surge capacity” in society if something on this scale happens again.
Get this! This form of the plague is still alive and well in India and China—and in rodents throughout the American southwest now.
Another threat exists—as reported by MSNBC:
“American laboratories handling the world’s deadliest germs and toxins have experienced more than 100 accidents and missing shipments since 2003, and the number is increasing steadily as more labs across the country are approved to do the work.
“No one died, and regulators said the public was never at risk during these incidents. But the documented cases reflect poorly on procedures and oversight at high-security labs, some of which work with organisms and poisons so dangerous that illnesses they cause have no cure.”
Later, the article mentions several incidents in which scientists were either bitten by infected animals or exposed to deadly bacteria, including “an employee at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute [who] was bitten on the left hand by an infected monkey in September 2006. The animal was ill from an infection of bacteria that causes plague. ‘When the gloves were removed, the skin appeared to be broken in 2 or 3 places,’ the report said. The worker was referred to a doctor, but nothing more was disclosed.”
Imagine what would happen if just one worker caught this deadly plague unknowingly and returned to his home. An entire neighborhood could quickly become infected—and wiped out!
One of the reasons certain diseases became so deadly in the past was their transmission by animals. Animal and insect-borne diseases have had a great impact on history. According to prominent Harvard bacteriologist Hans Zizsser, “Swords and lances, arrows, machine guns, and even high explosives have had far less power over the fates of the nations than the typhus louse, the plague flea, and the yellow-fever mosquito.”
In the case of the Black Death, the main carriers were rats. In some cases fleas that came into contact with the rats also transferred it to human beings. In other cases, dogs began to eat infected people who could not be buried fast enough. They then passed the disease on to other human beings, continuing the fatal cycle. And house cats that became infected spread it to their owners by simple coughing when being held.
The idea of disease moving from animals to humans is not new. According to a joint United Nations-World Bank study, “An estimated 75 per cent of new human diseases originate in animals and an average of two new animal diseases with cross-over capabilities emerge every year.”
The 1918 Spanish influenza originated in birds and then was transferred to pigs, as was the case with the swine flu, which killed 17,700 people in 2009.
In fact, dozens of diseases once only found in animals have infected humans during the past 20 years, with more soon expected to cross over. Examples (that are emerging or re-emerging) include HIV, hantavirus (from rodents), bird flu, rabies, malaria, West Nile virus (from mosquitoes), H1N1, SARS, and Lyme disease (from ticks).
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) experts warn that a growing spread of diseases could result from environmental changes and more people moving into rural areas.
“We appear to be undergoing a distinct change in global disease ecology,” Montira Pongsiri, an environmental health scientist at the EPA in Washington, told The Independent. “The recent emergence of infectious diseases [such as swine flu and SARS] appears to be driven by globalisation and ecological disruption.”
David Murrell, lecturer in ecology at University College London, said scientists have identified a shocking pattern: “Since 1940, over 300 new diseases have been identified, 60 per cent of which crossed to humans from animals and 70 per cent of these came from contact with wildlife,” he said. “I would expect the emergence of new diseases from contact with animals to continue in this century” (ibid.).
Think about the potential consequences, especially in cities where certain disease-carrying animals outnumber people! In Paris, for example, the population is over two million—yet the number of rats in its sewers is estimated at 8 million. How easy would it be for those living on the streets to contract any type of illness and then spread it?
The situation is much the same in New York City, where The New York Times reported that subway officials have been unable to control the pest population: “In the first study of its kind, officials scoured the city’s subway system to discover what accounts for the perennial presence of rodents, a scourge since the system opened more than a century ago…Rodents, it turns out, reside inside station walls, emerging occasionally from cracks in the tile to rummage for food.”
“Of 18 stations examined in Lower Manhattan, about half of the subway lines got a fair or poor rating for infestation, meaning they exhibited the telltale culprits—overflowing trash cans, too much track litter—that can lead to a rodent jamboree.”
“[Rodentologist Robert M.] Corrigan told health officials that while rats were a problem in the subways, the rodents inhabited many other public spaces, particularly parks. ‘Virtually all of New York,’ he said, ‘is vulnerable to this uncanny mammal.’”
Rats are of special concern to health officials, as they carry 40 different diseases, some of which are fatal to humans!
The potential for disease is not only in rats, but also in birds, cows, pigs—and even in household pets! As the world grows more and more amoral, there has also been a resurgence in bestiality. Human diseases such as brucellosis have been thought to have originated this way. A 1948 study showed a stunning 8 percent of all males—almost one in 12!—reportedly engaged in sexual intercourse with an animal. In the over 60 years that have elapsed since, how much has this likely increased, especially when all mankind is now awash in every conceivable kind of sexual pleasure, fantasy, perversion and pursuit?
Best-selling author Jared Diamond summarizes the correlation effect between diseases and animals in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel: “The major killers of humanity throughout our recent history—smallpox, flu, tuberculosis, malaria, plague, measles, and cholera—are infectious diseases that evolved from diseases of animals, even though most of the microbes responsible for our own epidemic illnesses are paradoxically now almost confined to humans. Because diseases have been the biggest killers of people, they have also been decisive shapers of history. Until World War II, more victims of war died of war-borne microbes than of battle wounds…the winners of past wars were not always the armies with the best generals and weapons, but were often merely those bearing the nastiest germs to transmit to their enemies.”
In fact, in perhaps the earliest use of bio-terrorism, invading Mongols catapulted the infected corpses of their dead fellow soldiers over city walls during sieges of European cities in order to spread the plague into the city.
Are Antibiotics the Answer?
In the modern age, people place great faith in the power of antibiotics to protect them from disease. However, many diseases are proving to be antibiotic-resistant. Antibiotics (any drug that either kills bacteria or hampers their growth) are no longer solving the problem as they once did.
Staph super germ MRSA successfully resisted the first new type of antibiotic in 35 years—a little more than just one year after it was introduced.
Penicillin and the more powerful drug vancomycin once easily controlled the staphylococcus bacteria. But staph has now transformed into a superbug, which in many instances now has the capability to resist penicillin and vancomycin. Thousands die each year in America from incurable hospital-acquired staph infections. Many now are those who have friends or family who have battled this scourge—some losing and some winning the battle.
A September 2010 Associated Press article reported, “An infectious-disease nightmare is unfolding: Bacteria that have been made resistant to nearly all antibiotics by an alarming new gene [in the bacteria] have sickened people in three states and are popping up all over the world, health officials reported...How many deaths the gene may have caused is unknown; there is no central tracking of such cases. So far, the gene has mostly been found in bacteria that cause gut or urinary infections. Scientists have long feared this—a very adaptable gene that hitches onto many types of common germs and confers broad drug resistance, creating dangerous ‘superbugs.’
“‘It’s a great concern,’ because drug resistance has been rising and few new antibiotics are in development, said Dr. M. Lindsay Grayson, director of infectious diseases at the University of Melbourne in Australia. ‘It’s just a matter of time’ until the gene spreads more widely person-to-person...”
The article quoted microbiology professor Dr. Patrice Nordmann at South-Paris Medical School: “‘The ingredients are there’ for widespread transmission, he said. ‘It’s going to spread by plane all over the world.’”
Do you doubt this? Think. 500 million people fly internationally every year. 70 million work outside their country.
What Went Wrong?
How did these near unstoppable bacteria grow to such formidable strength? Sadly, mankind invited them—by overusing antibiotics. Doctors, threatened with lawsuits if they cannot demonstrate that they did everything possible to protect a patient from possible disease, have now been overprescribing antibiotics for years.
For each decade following the invention of penicillin, physicians prescribed antibiotics as a “cure-all”: Have an earache? Take some Amoxicillin. Have bronchitis? Try Zithromax. Sinusitis? Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Still won’t go away? Take moxifloxacin. It’s stronger.
Entire generations have grown up with this thinking. Nearly every trip to the doctor ends with a stop at the local drugstore—antibiotic prescription in hand.
Over time, bacteria “learn” to resist antibiotics. After an unwanted bacterium is introduced to the body, the immune system fights back. Physicians will typically then prescribe antibiotics to aid the immune system. But, with each use, bacteria can begin and then continue to “resist” the drugs, using certain “tricks.” Some make themselves less permeable and the antibiotic cannot be absorbed. Others change their structure so antibiotics no longer recognize it and cannot find it to destroy it.
In the worst case, researchers now document bacteria that produce an enzyme to dissolve the antibiotic, rendering it useless. In effect, the hunter antibiotic has become the hunted!
The result is antibiotic-resistant hospital super-bacteria like Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) and MRSA.
Spores from MRSA can be entombed in a body during surgery, which if not treated soon after infection can result in the loss of a limb, or even death. This hard-to-cure superbug, which is an extreme staph infection, usually manifests itself as sores on the skin, but can also lead to fatal necrotizing pneumonia. Worse, MRSA can be carried unknowingly on hands, clothes, paper or even a “get well” card tied to a bouquet of flowers.
Doctors can take it into exam rooms, family members can infect a patient they are visiting—surgeons can even carry it into the operating room. Again, the bacterium can sneak in on a nose or hand, and can infect a person through a wound the size of a mosquito bite.
According to the CDC, “MRSA occurs most frequently among patients who undergo invasive medical procedures or who have weakened immune systems and are being treated in hospitals and healthcare facilities such as nursing homes and dialysis centers.” The organization also stated, “MRSA in healthcare settings commonly causes serious and potentially life threatening infections, such as bloodstream infections, surgical site infections, or pneumonia.”
As resistance to antibiotics has worsened, hospitals have had to resort to “the drug of last resort”—vancomycin—to combat MRSA.
Consider again the super bacteria C. difficile. The CDC describes it as “a bacterium that causes diarrhea and more serious intestinal conditions such as colitis.” Symptoms include diarrhea for two or more days, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain or tenderness.
An estimated 28,000 people die of “C. diff” infections per year in America, which primarily occur in hospitals, and tens of thousands more in nursing homes also become infected.
The United Kingdom Department of Health recorded 36,674 deaths between 1997 and 2007 for the two infections (C. difficile claimed 26,208 and MRSA 10,466).
Researchers from the University of Nottingham reported, “Official figures show that 5,000 people die from a healthcare-associated infection every year in the UK and tackling the superbugs costs the NHS £1bn a year [approximately US$1.5 billion]. One in 12 of us will pick up an infection during a stay in hospital. There’s a one in 77 chance of contracting MRSA and a one in 50 chance of developing C. diff.”
An April 2008 CDC report showed that U.S. hospital patient infections doubled from 2001 to 2005. The New York Times reported, “Several years ago, the mortality rate from a C. difficile infection was around one to two percent. But today, various studies estimate that the death rate is six percent. The reason is that a hypervirulent strain has emerged that emits higher levels of toxins than earlier strains.”
Scientists fear community-acquired MRSA could team up with the swine flu virus to produce absolutely horrific results. Those whose immune systems are weakened by H1N1 virus then are highly susceptible to contracting MRSA-induced necrotizing pneumonia.
An infections expert at the University of Nottingham, Professor Richard James, told the Telegraph, “The threat from [community-acquired MRSA] in the US is a very serious concern, especially if there is an epidemic. It could trigger a large number of cases of necrotizing pneumonia, which has a mortality rate of 50 per cent in 72 hours.”
Each time man attempts to fix a problem, it generally ends up worse in the end. The case of antibiotics is no different. The solution has come back to bite humanity. The superbugs grow consistently more resistant with the passing of time, and many older diseases like tuberculosis, gonorrhea, yellow fever and cholera—once considered eradicated—are now re-emerging and, worse, are more difficult to cure than before they disappeared.
If just one looming disease pandemic runs through the now global “village,” weakened immune systems—and a dwindling arsenal of powerful drugs—will leave wide-open a door to other little-known diseases waiting in the wings.
Disease and the Modern World
The threat of disease is widespread. Dirty water, pollution, warfare, livestock, pets, wild animals, a lack of proper nutrition, and overall degeneration of the body (including weakened immune systems) are paving the way for a perfect storm of pandemics to come. (To learn how the worsening state of global agriculture will lead to malnourishment and disease, read our book Mounting Worldwide Crisis in Agriculture, by Dale L. Schurter, the world's foremost authority on biblical agriculture.)
“Just because we’ve just had a pandemic does not mean we’ve decreased our chances of having another,” said Dr. Carolyn B. Bridges, an epidemiologist in the flu division of the CDC. “We have to stay vigilant” (The New York Times).
Consider how easy it is to spread disease in our modern society. A person going to another country on business or leisure contracts a disease, returns to his home country showing no symptoms, and infects those he comes in contact with. It is that easy.
An example of how disease can be spread in this modern age is West Nile Virus. It is believed that this disease was transported to the United States through mosquitoes that crossed the ocean in airplane wheel wells. They arrived in New York City in 1999.
Another was the rapid rise of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. When this disease suddenly spread from China to infect people in 37 countries, it showed the glaring vulnerability of the world to disease epidemics.
In his book The Life of Reason, famed historian George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Judging from history, humanity is setting itself up for the “Mother of All Pandemics”—and maybe several, or even many. Most will choose to ignore the clear pattern of history—that history always repeats itself.
Take this out of the realm of sterile statistics. Make it real. Take heed and understand. These things will come to pass in your lifetime!
The entire world will soon learn that God is the only One who can truly cure or heal all forms of sickness and disease (Ex. 15:26; Psa. 103:3). God alone has the ability to forgive sin, which is directly related to why people get sick (Matt. 9:1-6; Psa. 41:3-4).
How will this come about?
What Is Prophesied to Come
From the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has lived in rebellion against God, breaking His laws with impunity. As a result, He has used pestilences to punish disobedience so that man could eventually learn the path to happiness and prosperity.
More than 3,000 years ago, God used a series of plagues to force the pharaoh in Egypt to release Israel from slavery (Exodus 7-12). Later, He brought a pestilence against Israel to punish King David (II Sam. 24:15).
God will yet again use pestilence to punish the nations. Notice this warning in Deuteronomy 28: “But it shall come to pass, if you will not hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you: cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your store. Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, the increase of your kine, and the flocks of your sheep. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
“The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto you, until He have consumed you from off the land, whither you go to possess it. The Lord shall smite you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting [hot, dry winds and drought], and with mildew [too much rain]; and they shall pursue you until you perish.
“And your carcass shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away. The Lord will smite you with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof you cannot be healed. The Lord shall smite you with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart” (vs. 15-19, 21-22, 26-28).
In Revelation 6:8, God again specifically mentions using “beasts of the earth” to punish. Hungry animals desperate for food will attack vastly more people in the future. Others carrying every kind of disease will infect people. This is coming. It is sure!
Understand that even in the prosperous nations of the West, millions upon millions of vermin (including rats, but also bats, skunks, raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, foxes and pigs) live side by side with human beings. In some of the biggest cities, they actually (greatly) outnumber people.
In the coming scramble for food, these creatures will compete with mankind for dwindling supplies, causing disease of every kind to spread like wildfire across many nations.
I take no pleasure in reporting the awful things of this booklet. But they must be said. And you must be willing to heed.
When the terrible worsening of disease comes from just over the horizon panic will become the greatest pandemic. Sheer terror will keep people from buses, planes, trains, restaurants, schools, malls, homes, places of work, and virtually all indoor public places. Nothing will reassure them. Nothing will quiet their fear. Pause at least for a moment to ask where you expect to be.
The citizens of the countries privileged to be part of the Western world understand little about most of the diseases described. Usually it is only through newspaper headlines or news reports that they come to their attention. Even then, pandemic threats and health organizations’ gloomy statistics seem unreal.
Make no mistake! It is no longer a matter of if pestilence will strike these nations, but when. Millions upon millions will die. Realize that 82,000 people now die of disease every day, and recall that this translates to 30 million a year. Again, this would be the equivalent of the entire nation of Canada. But these people are dying the world over, not just in one place. If any whole city of 82,000 disappeared in one day, with all of its citizens dying in a host of terrible ways—and this always followed by a slightly bigger city wiped out the next day—the world would understand what is already happening.
Long ago, God foretold that disease would come on the peoples of the world if they did not obey Him. This is now happening—and is prophesied to grow FAR worse. Diseases now primarily found in the “Third World” are foretold to soon enter the West. Many scientists and doctors tell us these diseases are poised to “make the leap.”
Some scientists think they can control the spread of illness. How wrong they are! Modern medicine’s efforts to eradicate disease can be compared to a man attempting to plug the gash in the Titanic’s hull with caulking compound. The ship is going down!
The threat of global epidemics looms large over the earth. They are coming, they will happen, and they will threaten the very existence of civilization!