Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A million flu-infected in Ukraine, and one US cat

I wrote a week ago that "Something is happening in the Ukraine." A mystery disease that seems like the flu but maybe isn't, is rampaging across the Russian tundra and scaring the sneakers off everyone. Quite quickly many have become infected with it, and now the news just a week later is that a million have been infected and 155 have died.

A million infected in Ukraine flu epidemic
KIEV — Ukraine's epidemic of flu and acute respiratory disorders has now affected more than a million people, the country's deputy health minister said on Tuesday. Vasyl Lazoryshynets said the death toll from the epidemic had risen to 174, as President Viktor Yushchenko warned the country must brace itself for a second wave of infections. Nearly 53,000 Ukrainians have now been hospitalised, Lazoryshynets said, but the number in intensive care has fallen by nearly a quarter to around 330. A total of 67 cases of swine flu have been reported in Ukraine, he said, 14 of which had been fatal. "Ukraine must prepare properly for a second wave of respiratory infections and flu," including A(H1N1), Yushchenko said Tuesday, according to the Interfax news agency. A World Health Organisation (WHO) team in Ukraine said on Monday the epidemic had slowed, but warned a second wave was likely. On Monday the health ministry's previous bulletin on the epidemic, which began in mid-October, reported 969,000 infections, with 155 deaths and 65 cases of A(H1N1).

More interesting are quotes like these, "There is no question that this is a rapidly involving illness,” said Jukka Pukkila, team leader for the WHO international expert team that arrived this week in Ukraine at the government’s request."

Mutation is common but can be deadly depending on which way the mutation grows. In 1918, the Spanish flu mutated into a second wave and was the more lethal strain. Soldiers close-quartered in WWI who were malnourished, had compromised immune systems and perhaps were also suffering from stress and fatigue provided good targets for the flu bug. Though mutations are common, jumping from animal to human to different animal is not. There are reports this week that a cat has come down with H1N1 and this is very concerning. Combined with the Ukraine statements about the rapid involvement and possible mutation, we should keep a careful watch.

"Implications of the H1N1 Swine Flu Moves Back into Animals"
"H1N1 was originally referred to as the "Swine" flu. This was due to the H1N1 flu strain moving from swine (pigs) into humans. Strains of diseases moving between animals and humans are not new. Diseases have been doing this for decades. This movement can cause strains to mutate. That is why the story about H1N1 moving back into animals is worth a look. A cat in Iowa has contracted the H1N1 "swine" flu. Chicago Tribune reports a "13-year-old tabby came down with H1N1 swine flu, proving that humans ill with the flu virus should take pains not to spread it to cats as well as humans." Having worked in public health, this case is surprising and worth some attention. Public health officials did not expect H1N1 strain to move into cats and dogs."

The article goes on to quote the veterinarian, "...it is not normal for a house cat to contract a human flu virus. Mullen quoted veterinarian doctor Kimberly May as saying, "In general, cats are not considered susceptible to human flu viruses, but this cat got H1N1 flu from his owners. There seems to be no doubt about that, and from our understanding, it seems to be the first time a cat caught flu from a human."

Though Jesus said there will be pestilences (meaning in the Tribulation) but there would also be birth pangs leading up to the Tribulation, there is a larger issue at play here I believe. Sure, dread mutated mystery disease in the Ukraine is definitely an end time sign, but the bigger problem is the plethora of things happening in the world that are "unusual" or "surprising" or "first time." The difficulty sometimes for prophecy watchmen is that it's hard to see this event or that event as a directly God-driven. In hindsight we see markers and can re-construct chronologies. But while we are in the thick of it, it is harder to distinguish.

In 2008 Volcano Chaiten in Chile erupted suddenly for the first time in 9,500 years (say scientists).  Locusts descended on areas in the Horn of Africa for the first time in recorded history. Illinois crops are at their lowest records ever. The earliest ever snow was recorded in Chicago, flu bugs mutating and jumping from animal to human to other animal ... the list goes on of things that are happening for the first time this year. In my opinion, this is one reliable way to verify that God's hand is at work. The number of unusual events, occurring in quick succession, for the first time, in diverse arenas of weather, agriculture, archaeology, geology, economics seems to be the Hand of God.

God is strong and mighty. He is above all the earth and the stars and the cosmos. The bible shows us that the end times signs continue to grow in intensity until the tribulation right and careen right through the seal, trumpet and the bowl judgments. These signs also grow in uniqueness and at a certain point in the Tribulation, they veer toward impossible. The signs and judgments that the world will be experiencing will have no scientific explanation. They will be impossible to describe and man will be unable to explain them. Two Witnesses resurrected in front of astonished eyes worldwide? The sun goes dark?  Demonic locusts fly out of the pit? How can human minds explain this? The answer is it can't.

For now, we who are watching the end times signs are noticing the progression from "unusual" to "first ever" to "weird" know that God is applying increasing pressure on human hearts. Eventually, these things coming upon the earth will be unusual enough so that "Then they will know that I am the LORD; I have not said in vain that I would inflict this disaster on them."'

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