Despite advances in modern medicine, China is setting up roadblocks to cope with an outbreak of an ancient plague that once wiped out one-third of the world’s population and may have been one of the plagues that God used to strike Egypt.
Chinese officials installed temperature scanners at airports and checkpoints on main roads in an attempt to stop the spread of Bubonic plague as a fourth case was discovered in less than three weeks. A program to exterminate rats and fleas, which carry the disease, was also launched in Inner Mongolia where the disease seems to be originating.
The latest victim was an unidentified farmer from Ulanqab in south Inner Mongolia and was said to be in a stable condition. Those who came into contact with the herder were quarantined, officials said.
All of the cases so far have been the pneumonic strain of the disease. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the pneumonic plague can be fatal if left untreated and is extremely contagious.
Though China is far from Egypt, the Bubonic Plague is a dark shadow in the country’s collective unconscious. The Third Pandemic is the designation of a major bubonic plague pandemic that began in Yunnan province in China in 1855, spreading to all inhabited continents. Ultimately more than 12 million people died in India and China from the plague. Europe and Asia were hit by three waves of the Bubonic plague resulting in over 200 million deaths.
The strong reaction to the recent outbreak is understandable. Bubonic plague in the 14th century, also known as the Black Death, was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia and in Europe. If untreated, the disease has a 100 percent mortality rate, and the pneumonic form can be fatal within 12-24 hours.
Bubonic Plague is making a comeback with close to 50,000 human cases being diagnosed in the last two decades. It is now categorized by the World Health Organization as a re-emerging disease. The last outbreak of bubonic plague in the U.S. was in 1924 and was centered in Los Angeles.
An outbreak of Bubonic Plague in Madagascar in 2017 nearly got out of control before the WHO stepped in, delivering nearly 1.2 million doses of antibiotics and released $1.5 million in emergency funds.
In July, celebrity doctor Dr. Drew Pinsky predicted that Los Angeles was in danger of an outbreak of Bubonic Plague in what he termed an imminent “apocalypse.” Dr. Drew blamed the growing population of homeless people and the lack of a rodent control program.
The sixth plague in Egypt, boils, may very well have been bubonic plague, whose characteristic symptom is boil-like skin lesions that form black ulcers.
The connection between Bubonic Plague and Egypt was proven in 2010 when scientists traced the plague to ancient Egypt. Ancient cultures lived close to their livestock, and the plague was transferred from the animals by fleas. While exploring ruins in Egypt, Egyptologists found 3,000-year-old remains of Nile rats and used fine sieves to discover the remains of fleas, both carriers of the plague.
The plague of שחין (shechin; boils), as are all the plagues that struck Egypt before the Exodus, is prophesied to return in the end-of-days by Zechariah.
As for those peoples that warred against Yerushalayim, Hashem will smite them with this plague: Their flesh shall rot away while they stand on their feet; their eyes shall rot away in their sockets; and their tongues shall rot away in their mouths. Zechariah 14:12
As terrifying as the threat of a natural pandemic is, a reload of the Bubonic Plague may appear as a result of the hand of man rather than the hand of God. Indeed, Bill Gates addressed the Munich Security Conference in 2017, saying that terrorists will use biological weapons to create a pandemic that would kill tens of millions. Gates estimated that such a plot was a “reasonable probability” within 10-15 years and would kill an estimated 30 million people in less than a year.
We are much closer to this plague than ever before as, counter-intuitively, it may be our medical expertise that will bring us crashing down. The US Department of Defense is currently investigating possible mishandling of samples of anthrax and bubonic plague in its laboratories. The samples were shipped to other labs, including those outside of the United States. It would not take much human error or nefarious plots to release these nightmares.