V RaptureChrist Newsletter
March 15, 2003

Danger - Killer Pneumonia

Today, on March 15, 2003,  The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global warning about a new medical health threat. A mysterious new organism is causing  severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).  This atypical pneumonia originated in China and has now spread to the rest of the world.

The WHO has released an  "emergency travel advisory."  Today, a medical doctor was taken off an airplane flying from New York to Singapore. He was quarantined in a medical  isolation unit in Frankfurt, Germany. 

This doctor, believed to be the first person in Europe to be infected with the atypical virus, was flying to Singapore from New York, where he already began to suffer symptoms.  Early symptoms of atypical pneumonia include high fever, muscle aches, headache, diarrhea, and sore throat, according to the WHO. Typical pneumonia usually causes coughing and fever.

Earlier this week, WHO issued its first global alert in 10 years because of the speed at which the disease is traveling and because patients are not responding to the usual treatments for pneumonia.

What exactly is causing SARS is not clear.  Scientists  have been doing tests for several weeks in the world's best laboratories, but they are still not sure whether it is a virus or bacteria.

Chinese woman protects herself against epidemic.

The first outbreak was reported in February in China's southern Guangdong province, where 305 people were infected and five people died.

Chinese health authorities said the outbreak was caused by an unusual strain of chlamydia not transmitted through sexual contact.  Other officials say that the organism is thought to be an avian virus, the government advising residents to avoid direct contact with poultry and birds.

While experts did not determine how a 1997 flu viral strain jumped from birds to humans in China, they ruled out the possibility the virus could be contracted by eating infected birds.  In the last five years China has suffered through three major bird flu outbreaks.

In Hong Kong,  officials said they were testing everyone with severe pneumonia for the virus but had found no positive results.  It is also contemplated that the cause may be a mutant strain of influenza.

Along with China, the infection has been reported in Canada, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

We pray that God will guide all of you in how to protect yourselves and your loved ones from this new disease.

How to Protect Yourself from Infection

There might not be any prescription drugs that are effective against this new organism which is causing this type of atypical pneumonia, but there are well known methods of prevention.  

  • Clean your hands often.
  • Do not touch your nose, mouth or eyes.
  • Cook food before you eat it.
  • Eat foods to boost your immunity.
  • Do not use other people's clothes or items.
  • Do not use public restrooms.
  • Wash your clothes using chlorine.

The reason for cleaning hands is that dirty hands are a way of spreading viruses. Viruses and bacteria can survive on fomites (articles such as clothing, furniture, toys, etc.) for several hours.  Limit contact with the nose, mouth, and eyes because they contain mucus membranes that are ports of entry for bacteria and viruses. Wearing glasses will protect you from the mist of particles created by people sneezing, coughing, or simply talking.

These particles tend to move downward by gravity; therefore children are particularly susceptible because they are shorter than most people.

It is important for children to have strong defenses against viruses; they cannot drink sodas and eat candy.  Good foods to eat are fresh vegetables and fruits.  Processed foods full of sugar lower your immunity.    

Salads and other uncooked food could carry bacteria and viruses. In a restaurant, workers usually will not wash vegetables used in preparing a fresh salad and you are not sure of the personal hygiene habits of the staff.

As formites are a source of viruses, be very careful in accepting used articles from people you do not know. For example, that pretty furry teddy bear might carry somebody's measles.

Be very careful in buying articles that cannot be properly sterilized, for example items made of straw, fabric, feathers - especially if made in a country with poor sanitation.

Most adults know not to sit on a public toilet without covering the seat, but how many children in schools are supervised to avoid this possible source of contamination?

Chlorine has been found to destroy most viruses, even the HIV virus. 

If an actual epidemic occurs, more aggressive measures must be taken.

  • Wear a face mask and gloves when in public
  • Limit your exposure to public areas {malls, restaurants, sports arenas}
  • Do not travel to affected areas
  • Buy air filters
  • Send your children to a small private school or homeschool them.

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