World News and Trends- SARS: When germs have no enemies

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World News and Trends- SARS

When germs have no enemies

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The World Health Organization (WHO) strongly warned world travelers to avoid Hong Kong and China's Guangdong province due to the flu-like sickness. Dr. David Heymann, executive director of the organization's Communicable Disease Program, offered this precaution: "This is the first time that we have recommended people avoid an area and this is because we do not understand the disease completely, because there is no vaccine and there's no drug."

The disease seems to spread easily and quickly, in part because of international travel. Although the mere idea of a runaway germ without any known natural enemies is frightening, those who have died constitute about 6 percent of the 3,400 who have been diagnosed with SARS in 27 nations. Remarkably, 90 percent of patients recover within a week. The United States has reported 35 cases of SARS illness that fit the WHO definition of the disease, but as of this writing none have proved fatal.

SARS is very difficult to isolate; the sickness does not appear to be transmitted by intimate contact alone. Those infected are being quarantined. Surgical masks are seen on Hong Kong streets, and commercial airlines are disinfecting their planes. Symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and fevers of more than 100 degrees.

The Bible speaks of pestilences that follow on the heels of war, but like the scourge of the bubonic plague in the Middle Ages, diseases can crop up unexpectedly. Apparently more will come in the troubling years ahead. Write for our free booklet Are We Living in the Time of the End?

(Source: The Washington Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.)