Category Archives: Pestilence & Disease

Belief in Witchcraft Complicates Current Marburg Outbreak in Uganda

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The most recent outbreak of Marburg Viral Disease (MVD) in Uganda has now claimed the lives of three people with as many as six ill (depending on the news resource). Attached to the outbreak is a curious superstition, explained in a recent update from the World Health Organization:

In the ongoing Marburg Virus Disease (MVD) outbreak in Kween district eastern Uganda, community engagement responders are faced with several rumours, misinformation and strong negative beliefs that seem to underpin outbreak.Most prominent is witchcraft which many believe is responsible for the deaths that have lately occurred in their community. For instance, family members of the probable and confirmed cases are convinced that their people were bewitched by their step mother who comes from a neighbouring tribe and with whom they have had a longstanding land feud. So firm is their belief that they planned to attack and kill her and her children had it not been for the timely intervention by members of the district health team.

Source: Rumours, Misinformation and Negative Beliefs underpin the Current Marburg Outbreak in Uganda | WHO | Regional Office for Africa

Couple this strange bit of news with the reports coming out of Uganda, regarding ‘dancing with the dead’ as a means of transmission for pneumonic and bubonic plague, and you get a recipe for a major healthcare crisis in both regions.

Liberia: Ebola Survivors to Undergo Three Specialized Tests – allAfrica.com

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[I]t’s good to see a long-term study involving Ebola survivors. Medical professionals in the past have apparently left the area as soon as the initial outbreak is contained, but this time they’ve chosen to monitor survivors who have complained of chronic vision, cognitive, and neuromuscular problems, despite being declared cured.

Ebola virus lingers in some ‘protected’ tissues for at least 9 months after recovery (this time span is likely to lengthen as the study continues). Here’s a snippet from October 23rd’s article:

About 1,500 Ebola survivors targeted for enrollment in the on-going Natural History Study on the Ebola virus are to shortly undergo three additional medical tests to determine their health status.The study is also known as the Joint Liberia-US Partnership for Research on Ebola in Liberia (PREVAIL).

Source: Liberia: Ebola Survivors to Undergo Three Specialized Tests – allAfrica.com

The Future of Medicine: Deciphering a Major Clue in the SOTU

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Wikimedia Commons illustration of 'tissue on a chip' concept.

Wikimedia Commons illustration of ’tissue on a chip’ concept.

[L]ast night’s ‘State of the Union’ speech contained loads of platitudes, congratulatory back-pats, and perhaps a few misleading statements (jobs numbers, for one—and the implication that Americans are better off now for another), but that’s not what I intend to write about this morning. Instead, I’d like to take a long at a little bomb our President dropped that may indicate the direction healthcare is heading in the near future.

Here’s the quote:

21st century businesses will rely on American science, technology, research and development. I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable. Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

The President loves doing as much as he can to circumvent Congress, so he’s signed memoranda, letters, and executive orders on an almost daily basis. Now, the ‘Precision Medicine Initiative’ has not yet been signed (or at least, it is not showing up as such on the Internet—the only references are to last night’s speech), but if it is signed, then we can probably see how it might be structured by looking at the current budget requests from the National Institutes of Health. Continue reading

XNAs touted as road to synthetic life and more

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]O]h, the hubris of mankind! To think that some scientists genuinely believe that they can improve upon God’s design just boggles the mind. Philipp Holliger and his team in Cambridge (UK) claim to have one-upped God Himself by creating a better nucleic acid.

XNAs have been around for several decades (the X implies that the nucleic acid is built on the backbone of something other than deoxyribose or ribose). These monstrous molecules are being touted as the secret to longer life and better life, but they may just be another way to destroy human life–period.

The delicate balance of God’s cellular world is far more complex than most might believe, and it is foolish to think mankind can ‘self-improve’ — that there is ‘better living through chemistry’ to quote an old ad slogan. This is just a branch of the old eugenics tree, and an RNA-destroying XNA construct may prove to be just another means to make sure only certain genomes continue to thrive.

 

God will not be mocked, and I can only pray that Christ returns before XNAs make it into mainstream ‘medicine’.

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Read the latest report on Holliger’s work via Synthetic enzymes hint at life without DNA or RNA – life – 01 December 2014 – New Scientist.