Pestilence Update

Generation Zika. Born in the shadow of a sinister virus pestilence. Part 2 in a series.

Blog note. Jesus indicated that ‘fearful sights’ (various natural disasters) would occur leading up to the time known as the Tribulation and Great Tribulation (a combined seven year period of great destruction on earth). Although these types of things have occurred in the past for centuries and thousands of years, they could be identified as the ‘season of the times’ due to the ferociousness of these events. They would be occurring in greater intensity, severity, frequency, size, duration, scope … just like the pains that a women experiences in labor the farther along she is in the labor process. We are in the ‘season of the times’ that comes just before the seven (7) year Tribulation/Great Tribulation period.

… And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. (Luke 21:11).

… And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; (Luke 21:25)

… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken; (Luke 21:26)

… This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. (2 Timothy 3:1)

Jesus is giving a series of prophecies about what to look for as the age of grace comes to a close. These verses are several of many such prophecies from throughout the Bible. 2017 was the worst year in recorded history for the intensity, frequency, severity, duration and occurrence of a large number of severe natural disasters worldwide. Earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, torrential flooding, unprecedented wildfires in unusual places, devastating droughts, excessive/scorching heat setting records everywhere, record snowfalls in Europe and Russia. Snow in the Arabia. This list can go on. Most studied Eschatologists believe these ‘fearful sights’ and massive natural disasters are all part of the ‘CONVERGENCE’ of signs that this Biblical and prophetic age is closing. Most people who study prophecy are familiar with the routine reference(s) made that these things will be like a woman having labor pains that occur in greater severity, frequency, size and duration prior to giving birth. End of note.

Generation Zika. Born in the shadow of a sinister virus pestilence. Part 2 in a series.

The Telegraph.

The virus spread across the Americas and into the Caribbean, infecting an estimated 1.5 million people in Brazil alone. Yet by November 2016, with the Rio Olympics over and few new cases being reported, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an end to this “public health emergency of international concern”.

Yet Generation Zika’s story is only just beginning. Across Recife, a tropical city of beachside hotels and hillside favelas, the mood among affected families reflects a weary fatalism.

Duda was abandoned by her father before birth and by her mother soon after. Her father lived on the street, the victim of mental health problems, according to his family. And her mother did not want her. Instead she was taken in by her paternal grandmother, Miriam, 43, and her aunt, 20-year-old Cleane Silva. They see the birth mother frequently, but she never asks how Duda is getting on. “It just breaks my heart,” says Miriam.

Money is tight and one of the downstairs rooms in their simple two-bedroom rented home is furnished with soft mats and a giant Mini Mouse figure. Duda is unable to sit up by herself and struggles to lift the weight of her head. The seizures come daily. She sees little other than contrasts between light and dark, and now sunlight gives her headaches. “It is like she still has the virus and every day there is something new we have to cope with,” says Miriam.

It is a common story across Recife. Researchers at the Altino Ventura Foundation, which offers therapy to low-income families, say about 70 per cent of mothers have been left to cope alone, the result of a macho culture where fathers were ashamed of their disabled children.

Thuana Regina, 22, says her ex couldn’t offer money and was not interested in learning how to help their daughter. “Sometimes when he used to try to help with the child he wouldn’t speak to me, so he didn’t know what to do. So I keep him out of now. It’s easier for all of us,” she says. As she speaks her hands perform one of her new skills, injecting epilepsy drugs through a feeding tube into the abdomen of two-year eight-month old Thaisa Vitoria.

The burden is amplified by the way Zika ran into Brazil’s socio-economic divides. The mothers live without the sort of air-conditioning that would keep mosquitoes at bay, without the means to pick when they became pregnant or the money to secure a (mostly illegal) abortion. If you were to design an environment for the spread of a mosquito-borne disease, then Recife – with its tropical climate, waterways and patchy sewage system built on a mangrove swamp – would be it.

No one is quite sure how Zika arrived in Brazil. It had previously been responsible for outbreaks in Micronesia and French Polynesia, where it was associated with several dozen cases of Guillain–Barré syndrome, an auto-immune disorder that causes muscle weakness, but was not at the top of any surveillance list.

Some speculate the virus came to Brazil with fans arriving for the 2014 World Cup. Or perhaps in teams competing in outrigger canoe championships the same year. Alternatively it may have floated around for years, its mild fever and rash shrugged off as a weak case of dengue or chikungunya, which were already circulating.

However when the virus arrived, it found fertile territory in Recife. The country’s fourth biggest city is known as the “Venice of Brazil” for its two meandering rivers, criss-crossing channels and islands. A tropical climate brings enough rain to create perfect conditions for mosquitoes to breed.

So when Zika began spreading in April 2015, Recife was one of the worst affected places. In 2015, 960 cases of microcephaly were confirmed in Brazil and almost double the next year, with the vast majority in the north-east of the country. The numbers have dwindled since then as the virus has faded – fewer than 300 children born with microcephaly last year, and only 20 cases in the first six months of 2018.

Dr Regina Coeli, a paediatrician at Oswaldo Cruz University Hospital, said she had not seen a new-born with congenital Zika syndrome – the cocktail of abnormalities affecting babies born to mothers infected with the virus – in months. Yet much of her time now is spent dealing with complications as the babies reach toddler age. She lists the problems from neurological abnormalities to orthopaedic complaints, such as hip dislocations, and urinary or chest infections, caused by toddlers sucking milk or food into their lungs because they cannot swallow properly.

Every week brings surprises. It is not like babies born to mothers who contract rubella, or German measles, during pregnancy, says Dr Regina (as she is universally known). “We have all the descriptions for what will happen each year. For Zika we don’t have this,” she says in a consulting room decorated with characters from the Jungle Book.

… Continued in part 3

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