It was frightening how easily it happened and Canada’s medical and scientific community was powerless to stop it.
Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported North America’s first fatal case of H5N1 (a lethal bird flu) in Alberta, Canada on January 3, 2014.
H5N1 is a deadly disease transmitted via contact with birds — alive or dead — and can include under-cooked bird meat and even bird feces.
The death rate for H5N1 is nearly 60%. According to WHO, the World Health Organization, there are 648 known cases of H5N1 flu in the world (15 countries) and of those, 384 died. The only good news is the disease is not very virulent.
The person affected was a woman in her 20s in good health. She had travelled to China. Returning home on December 27, 2013, she started feeling sick on her flight from Beijing to Vancouver. After arriving home, the woman’s condition worsened. She was hospitalized January 1, 2014 and two days later died. UPDATE: Latest report says she worked as a Registered Nurse at a hospital in Red Deer, Alberta.
Thankfully H5N1 finds it difficult to transfer between humans, so health officials are confident it’s an isolated case. But they have contacted passengers on her two Canadian flights and are monitoring the her family.
Though this disease is not virulent, the next one may be.
It can happen quickly
Curiously, a couple of weeks before the H5N1 landed in Canada, theoretical physicists from Humboldt University in Berlin produced a video showing how quickly a disease could spread around the world.
According to their report, pandemics used to be isolated to smaller communities, but modern air travel has changed the rules of disease transmission.
In their report Professors Brockman and Hebling wrote:
For example more people travel each day between London and New York than for example, London and some small town in the UK.
So would it not make sense to think of London and New York as being close neighbours and a small town in the UK to be far apart?
For their study, they used London’s Heathrow Airport as the transmission hub for a pandemic. Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world. On a daily basis it has 1,288 flights departing to over 80 countries and over 191,000 people flying into the airport.
The professors based their model on the spread of the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 and the SARS outbreak in 2003. They found a consistent pattern when plotting the arrival of each of these diseases in different areas of the world.
The video (see below) shows how the disease would move out from Heathrow. European cities would be hit first, followed by Greenland, North Africa and the U.S. east coast. From there, it crosses America to the west coast, then to Russian, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
It is estimated it would take two to four weeks for a disease to spread around the world. The transmission rate for each disease is different depending on how virulent it is.
Jesus on end-time plagues
The disciples had finally figured out the Lord would soon die, but they also understood He was going to return. They cornered Jesus and asked Him what signs would show His return was imminent:
“Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Mathew 24:3 NASV)
Jesus gave a number of indicators, which he described as birth pangs — wars and earthquakes. But in Luke 21: 10-11, Jesus says there will also be plagues and famines.
Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, 11 and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:10-11 NASV)
Though we have developed medical and scientific tools to combat disease, it’s amazing that our technology has probably made the world most vulnerable to the spread of disease than at any time in its history.
Is this what Jesus saw coming?