FIRST CASES OF EBOLA ERUPTED IN HOSPITAL RUN BY COURAGEOUS BELGIAN NUNS WHO DIED FROM IT
If you can't help the feeling that a lot is going on around us, and unraveling, don't feel too unusual. By now, many are joining your ranks.
Signs? Hard to keep up, for those who look for omens: Wildfires exploding in various states, particularly California, where also a mudslide has stranded thousands. Lake Mead going lower and lower, as drought grips a huge swath of the West. Earthquakes in diverse spots, lately hundreds killed in China, but rumblings from Oklahoma (and other places not usually associated with significant tremors) to Central America, and out to the Pacific. Strange holes appearing in the ground in Siberia. A lake mysteriously materializing in Tunisia. Toxins from Lake Erie shutting down the supply of water for the entire city of Toledo, Ohio. A strangely cool summer for the Northeast. Huge hail in Russia. In the Arctic, waves where there was once a cover of ice. News that two years ago we barely dodged a disaster from a solar storm (which had been reported here at the time). Extremes and other extremes. Mysterious images. A weeping statue (Italy). Military conflict: Ukraine. Nigeria. Stuff across the Middle East. Strange lights in the sky. Sun halos.
When Jesus spoke of "signs" (in Matthew 24), didn't He indicate that similar happenings could foretell future events?
For you to secern. Tiny foreshadows?
Of most concern, right now: plague. It was plague that constituted famous "chastisements" in Roman times (finally brought to a halt when Pope Gregory the Great processed a miraculous image of Mary through the streets of Rome, and soon after Michael appeared on Castel Sant'Angelo) and during the Middle Ages (when disease spread from China).
Those were bubonic epidemics, thought to be a combination of bacteria. And the death tolls were enormous (one quarter to one third of Christian Europe and the same in Asia, in the case of the medieval outbreak). An eruption of influenza less than a hundred years ago killed tens of millions around the world (including two of the three Fatima seers; it was not part of any prophecies from there, at least not public ones; but an unusual event it was).
Always, this has been the very most dreaded disease; scientists have spent more time of late warning about bird influenza, which is more common (may even spread through the air) and likewise (often) fatal.
But now there are indications that Ebola might also become airborne (at least among pigs), and this is daunting because no disease in known history kills so brutally; it is a savage virus; and where bacteria can usually be eradicated, viruses are usually a different matter.
We do seem to be making some headway with types of Ebola.
The two American brought (by God's mercy) to Atlanta for treatment seem to be improving with a new formulation derived from experiments with monkeys.
But at minimum fifty to sixty percent of those who contract Ebola die in a horrible fashion, as explicated in a bestseller some years back, The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston, which we read at the time and which explained how one famous episode in September of 1976 in the Bumba Zone of Zaire (near the Ebola River) "seemed to emerge out of the stillness of an implacable force brooding on an inscrutable intention."
It was here -- perhaps from raw bushmeat: monkey, elephant, bats; or an insect -- that Ebola moved in the world of humans.
No one knows the first case.
We know only that it shows itself occasionally in various parts of central Africa -- and that there are different strains.
It first surfaced in the Yambuku Mission Hospital, an upcountry clinic run by Belgian nuns who used syringes, often ones that were not fully sterilized, to treat villagers.
The virus exploded simultaneously in fifty-five villages surrounding the clinic -- first those who had received injections, then family members. In normal course, it took blood-to-blood transfer.
It swept through the hospital, killing most of the nurses, and then hit the Belgian nuns.
The first was a sister who had delivered a stillborn baby.
The mother was dying of Ebola.
The baby had "crashed and bled out" inside the womb (in Preston's unsparing description).
That's the savage nature of this disease (prayer urgency here); it "attacks every organ in the human body except skeletal muscle and bone. It is a perfect parasite because it transforms virtually every part of the body into a digested slime of virus particles. The seven mysterious proteins that, assembled together, make up the Ebola-virus particle, work as a relentless machine, a molecular shark, and they consume the body as the virus makes copies of itself.
"Ebola attacks connective tissue with particular ferocity. In this way, collagen in the body turns to mush, and the underlayers of the skin die and liquefy. The skin bubbles up into a sea of tiny white blisters mixed with red spots. The skin has been likened to tapioca pudding. Spontaneous rips appear in the skin, and hemorrhagic blood pours from the rips."
We need not go on with the complete depiction.
Suffice it to say that blood pours forth from every bodily opening. Victims even weep blood, as did Christ. Skin sloughs off. There are seizures, thrashing.
We can see why experts are alarmed.
And that was from blood-to-blood transfer.
If it is truly airborne?
There was a nun at the Yambuku Hospital known in medical literature (which respects privacy) as Sister M. E. When she was infected she was brought by a priest and nun to the city of Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire, for better treatment. Sister M. E. was given a room of her own at Ngaliema Hospital (run by Swedish nurses), and as Preston wrote: "endured her agonals and committed her soul to Christ."
When the outbreak was over, the floor, chair, and walls in her room were stained with blood. No one would go near it. Doctors and nurses even feared breathing in the room.
Who could blame them?
This is how Ebola came to light.
The nun who accompanied her also broke out with the dreaded disease (and died the same way).
Catholic missionaries seem always on the front line, as now also two Christian missionaries -- the American health workers, now in Atlanta -- are on the front line.
And so we can see what happens if the world falls into disorder; what can happen unless we pray.
Can we prevent it with prayer?
We are called in this exciting and challenging time to bless everyone in the world.
In the current outbreak -- in Liberia, the worst ever -- a Spanish priest has been quarantined (another prayer need).
With prayer, we are preserved (unless the Will of God varies) from any such attack.
With prayer, we are healthy; we prepare.
No need for panic.
Also, though: no call for Pollyanna.
So often we pay attention to hurricanes, earthquakes.
They certainly can be bad. Devastating. But they have not a fraction the potential of a pandemic that goes airborne.
-- Michael H. Brown, 8/4/14
[see also: Archives: blessing everything and Archives: God's gifts for you]
[Note also: retreats: Connecticut and Two retreats in California]
[Michael Brown's books]
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