Ebola is not a “curse from god”

We should really be thankful that more diseases don’t transfer between species, frankly. Many plagues and disease outbreaks had an animal origin. Horrible though it is, it’s just one of those viruses people get because we live around animals and viruses mutate as time goes on. Basic biology, isn’t it?

Christian leaders in afflicted African countries speak of Ebola as a curse from God.

In Liberia, more than 100 Christian leaders meeting in early August declared that God was angry and Ebola a plague. They called for prayers to seek God’s forgiveness for sins including corruption and immoral acts such as homosexuality.

Liberia’s Wilmot Kotati Bobbroh, head of the Living Water Pentecostal Church, later described the outbreak as a national curse brought by God to force repentance. Bobbroh said chlorine and soap were not working, but God’s mercy was saving people.

The article lists more examples of this same thought process but ends not with requests for prayer to save these people but for better medical treatment to be made available.

Initially those infected with Ebola in Sierra Leone had relied on treatment from traditional healers, but this was shown to be ineffective, she said.

“Virtually all churches are relying on medical professional for treatment,” she added.

Harris said the virus spread quickly because little was known about it and the government had not mounted a robust response.

“The people had started taking relatives to prayer houses, while others administered herbal treatment,” Harris said. “By the time we realized this was an epidemic, it had grown out of proportion. We are now overwhelmed,” said Harris, while citing an urgent need for medical personnel and services.

So technically speaking, God curses and Science saves?

Something called Zmapp has been tried as a potential solution to the problem.

At present, treatment for the disease is limited to intensive supportive care. However, the missionaries were offered the opportunity to be given ZMapp – an experimental drug that had previously only been tested on monkeys – and it looks as though the treatment may have saved their lives.

Dr. Scott Podolsky, associate professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, has written in the Annals of Internal Medicine that ZMapp has much in common with methods of treating illness that were being developed toward the end of the 19th century.

That’s not the only treatment considered hopeful but it’s in the same kind of situation as ZMapp in terms of lacking human trials for safe use and efficacy. It all takes time.. and money. There’s a Forbes article that runs through the potential costs involved and what the options are for funding the search for a cure.

At least a cure looks likely in this case. We’re reaching a point with other viruses and bacteria where not even the strongest anti- drugs do much good. Other solutions present themselves in terms of creating innovative methods of attack but again, take time, money and testing to know if they’ll deliver all they promise.

I, for one, do not welcome our new viral overlords… we must continually seek to overthrow them.

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