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West Nile Virus – A Modern Plague?

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West Nile Virus

A Modern Plague?

With warmer weather on the way in the United States, a disease that has already claimed hundreds may soon become an epidemic. The Bible shows there is a reason for this—and that it will only become worse!

Learn the why behind the headlines.

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While walking his dog, an Atlanta, Georgia man found a hawk, which, when examined by authorities, tested positive for West Nile Virus. This viral disease can cause encephalitis (an infection of the brain and the spinal cord). It was Georgia’s second confirmed case of the disease. A citizen had previously found a crow infected with West Nile in Lowndes County.

Origin of the Disease

A mosquito-borne disease named for the West Nile River in Uganda, West Nile Virus can be fatal in humans. There is no specific treatment for it or vaccine to prevent it.

Since 1937, when it was first isolated, West Nile Virus has been a known cause of asymptomatic infection and fevers in humans in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. Not until 1999 were infections documented in humans and animals in the Western Hemisphere. In 1999 and 2000, 83 human cases of WNV encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) were reported in New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut, with 9 deaths.

The virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, which become infected and spread the disease by feeding on the blood of infected birds. The disease is even more lethal in certain types of birds, crows in particular.

In humans, the incubation period (i.e., time from infection to onset of disease symptoms) for West Nile encephalitis is usually 3 days to 2 weeks. West Nile Virus is not transmitted from person to person and although, in most human cases, no symptoms are detected, a small percentage of those infected develop the following mild symptoms: Swollen lymph glands, skin rash, fever, headache and body aches. Such symptoms will generally last a few days.

Other symptoms include: Fatigue, dizziness, weakness, confusion, joint problems and encephalitis or swelling of the brain. The U.S. Department of Health says people over the age of 50 are at greatest risk.

Victims of a severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) may exhibit headache, high fever, muscle weakness, disorientation, neck stiffness, stupor, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and coma. About “1 in 150 persons infected with the virus will develop a more severe form of disease. Symptoms of severe disease may last several weeks, although neurological effects may be permanent.

“Of the few people that develop encephalitis, a small proportion die but, overall, this is estimated to occur in less than 1 out of 1000 infections” (cindi.usgs.gov).

Recent Outbreaks

In 1999, when the virus crossed the Atlantic and appeared in New York City, doctors were stunned. Between 1999 and 2000, it killed nine Americans.

From 1999 to 2000, 82 cases of the disease and nine deaths occurred in the New York City and New Jersey metropolitan areas. In 2001, 10 states reported a total of 66 WNV infections, with 9 deaths. Another more massive outbreak occurred in the summer of 2002, striking nearly 1,300 people, and killing at least 54, according to the Center for Disease Control.

The 1996-97 outbreak of West Nile fever in and around Bucharest, Romania, exceeded 500 cases and had a fatality rate approaching 10 percent. This largest outbreak of the illness in Europe since the 1980s reaffirmed that mosquito-borne viral diseases can occur on a massive scale, even in temperate climates. Environmental factors, including human activities that increase mosquito population densities, heavy rains followed by floods, irrigation or higher than usual temperature that enable mass breeding of mosquitoes, could increase the incidence of West Nile fever.

The Implications

One may ask: “Since the symptoms of this disease are generally fairly minimal and rare, how do a few mosquitoes and a few dead birds affect me personally?” One tendency of human nature is the inability (or at least the lack of initiative) to see the big picture.

To understand the potentially far-reaching implications of this virus, consider: Over 110 species of birds are known to have been infected with West Nile Virus. Birds consume many crop-threatening insects, as well as mosquitoes. If the bird population is sharply impacted by disease-carrying mosquitoes, not only will crops suffer due to increased insect predators, but the mosquitoes will thrive due to the resultant decrease in mosquito-eating birds. It becomes a vicious cycle, one that will only accelerate, resulting in massive crop loss, fewer products on grocers’ shelves and, ultimately, higher prices for such goods.

Ultimately, if left unchecked, the scenario could include not only higher prices, but also rationing of goods. When one thinks about the lines of automobiles at gas stations due to oil shortages in recent history, the picture becomes clear.

Why is This Happening?

God long ago foretold that disease would come on the peoples of the world if they did not obey Him. This is now happening in a terrible and devastating way and is prophesied to grow far worse. Ezekiel 5:12 states that one-third of the population of the modern nations of Israel will die of pestilence—disease epidemics.

The Bible foretells a great time of world trouble lying ahead for all mankind (Matt. 24:21-22). Diseases once primarily found in the “Third World,” or underdeveloped countries, are prophesied to soon enter the West. Many scientists and doctors tell us that these diseases are poised to soon make this jump. When this happens, newspaper headlines and reports will not ignore them or treat them so casually.

The modern-day descendants of the tribes of ancient Israel are the free, democratic and primarily English-speaking peoples of Europe and North America. These people have ignored the true God, and His patience has nearly ended.

Like a father with the children that he loves, God is soon going to punish His people because of 6,000 years of sin and rebellion against His way of life. This is not a punishment that anyone will want to experience.

Consider these scriptures!

In Leviticus 26:15-17, God states, “If you…will not do all My commandments…I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague [fever], that shall consume the eyes…I will set My face against you, and you shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and you shall flee when none pursues you.” God forewarns that if we do not follow His instructions, terrible trials and plagues will fall upon us—no longer will He protect us from the worst pestilences this world will ever see.

Next notice Deuteronomy 28:58-62. God warns His people that if they do not heed His instruction—if they “…will not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book…Then the Lord will make your plagues wonderful [extraordinary]… even great plagues…and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance…all the diseases of Egypt…and they shall cleave unto you…until you be destroyed…because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.”

This warning is serious!

There is Hope!

The media reports staggering numbers of people infected with this and other deadly sicknesses, and it is getting worse. Yet there is hope!

Individuals who yield to God can avoid these terrible life-threatening diseases. The Bible describes promises God makes to anyone who obeys Him. Consider: “And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases…upon you; but will lay them upon all them that hate you” (Deut. 7:15).

We read further that if the nations of this world would only “…diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments…I will put none of these diseases upon you…for I am the Lord that heals you” (Ex. 15:26).

Mankind spends great time, effort and money to find “miracle” cures for diseases—in an attempt to circumvent punishment for breaking the laws of God. In the end, it is an attempt to treat the effect—not the cause—and only brings a short-term solution.

Modern medical science seeks to discover new ways to block the progress of highly contagious, deadly viruses and bacteria, while failing to realize that the only way to bring an end to all disease is by obeying God!

As diseases mutate and become more deadly, the number of outbreaks and infected people will only skyrocket. Doctors will scramble to find stronger antibiotics for their patients. But they will not find cures. Only by obeying God’s commandments can one be “immune” to these diseases.

To understand why this plague, as well as other diseases, will grow worse, ultimately resulting in the devastation of one-third of mankind, read our free booklet And there shall be pestilences. But if you truly fear God, walk in His laws and are led by His Holy Spirit, then God promises to keep you from the time of trouble coming upon the world.

In Psalm 91:5-10, God promises, “You shall not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flies by day; Nor for the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday, a thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, your habitation; There shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

This is God’s promise. Will you claim it?


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