Influenza: “Nature’s Bioterrorist”

1918 Spanish Flu
poster from the 1918 “Spanish”flu pandemic

JP: Albert Mohler on hope and caring in a time of sickness. Please read the the entire article as the section quoted is a little bleak!

Love in a Time of Swine Flu


The history of humanity is the history of sickness, disease, and death. When sin came, death came, and sickness remains the leading agent of death. The horseman of pestilence has visited plagues and pandemics upon humanity throughout the centuries. Even in the age of modern medicine and the conquest of so many diseases, the very real risk of pandemic remains — and we feel it in our souls.

The outbreak of swine flu now dominates the headlines and news programs, with at least 150 deaths in Mexico already recorded even as the disease is now confirmed around the world. For many years medical authorities have warned of a coming influenza pandemic — a modern plague — that could kill on a magnitude similar to the 1918 outbreak that killed over 100 million persons worldwide.

Writing in The Atlantic in 2005, Michael Specter called influenza “Nature’s Bioterrorist.” As Specter explains, “A pandemic is the viral equivalent of a perfect storm. There are three essential conditions, which rarely converge, and they are impossible to predict. But the requirements are clear. A new flu virus must emerge from the animal reservoirs that have always produced and harbored such viruses–one that has never infected human beings and therefore one to which no person would have antibodies. Second, the virus has to actually make humans sick (most don’t). Finally, it must be able to spread efficiently–through coughing, sneezing, or a handshake.”

Is this outbreak of swine flu the harbinger of a hellish pandemic? It is far too early to say, and there is no justification for jumping to that conclusion. Nevertheless, it is a clear warning. Even in a normal year 36,000 Americans die of the flu. We are made of fragile stuff.

Attribution: Image source

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