Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: MAP (01/31/19)
TITLE: Overcoming the Epidemic
By Dave Walker
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Valentine laid a hand on Patrick's shoulder. He couldn't look him in the eye. With the slightest nod, he muttered, "Third one this week."
The doctor could never get used to the futility he felt as patients like Helen, jaundiced and unconscious, lay dying. Patrick' faltering words drove the barb home. "I know you did all you could, Doc." But it was not enough -- and the gasp, "Thank you", left a despairing cry in his heart. Thank me? For what? I couldn't save her.
As the distraught husband took the hand of his unconscious wife and pressed it desperately to his lips, willing her back, Valentine went to the door, easing past the little boys. "Stay with her, Patrick. I'll find my way out."
The year was 1795 and yellow fever's deadly scythe was reaping its pallid harvest through New York City in an epidemic that left a trail of grieving parents, lonely spouses and orphaned children.
In the pubs the beery boffins asserted their theories:
"It's rats. I've seen 'em nibbling the food. Then someone comes along an' eats that same food."
"Naw, it's in the foul air. Comes across from the piles o' rubbish dumped near the houses."
"Mark my words, it's from the holds of ships. Comes from foreign lands with all that foreign cargo."
But no one really knew. The disease stalked, like a deadly wraith and seemed to strike at random.
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All the way home, the rattle of the coach on the cobbled streets was drowned, for the doctor, by the echoes of Patrick's heaving chest and muffled sobs. His lips were set and his mind determined. He would fight this..... And a strategy was forming.
The next day, he hired his team, with instructions to map the location of every case of yellow fever in New York. As the results arrived, a pattern emerged. The cases were clustered in certain areas. He visited the locations. What was the common factor? There were cases near unkempt streets, water reservoirs, messy gardens, but most particularly near local waste sites. Suddenly, he saw it. Excitedly, he overlaid the yellow fever map with one that showed the local waste dumps. They correlated.
Trudging through the sites, he saw pools of stagnant water, their surfaces blurred with a million animated mosquitoes. It is interesting that in his subsequent paper, he did not incriminate the mosquitoes, though we know now they are the carriers. However, he identified their habitat as the culprit. It was stagnant water that caused the cries of anguish over New York.
At his recommendation, all places that accumulated water were dealt with. Sewers were covered, streets were cleaned and paved, areas beneath granaries were enclosed and the stagnant water on waste sites identified and filled in.
Within a short time, as the mosquitoes could not breed, yellow fever disappeared from New York.
There is a lesson for us here:
While yellow fever caused tragedy and misery in New York we, too, can be beset by pain and suffering and, even spiritual death. Waste dumps in our lives, such as bad habits, addictions, an unbridled temper, bad company and other ungodly pursuits harbour toxic, stagnant pools, like guilt, shame, deceit, lack of integrity and unfaithfulness. These are breeding grounds for messengers of Satan to attack and destroy us. The only way to keep healthy is to identify these poisonous places and eliminate them. Valentine Seaman used a mapping system to identify them in the physical world. We have the Holy Spirit to identify them in the spiritual. God gives us the assurance, "When you turn to the left or right, you will hear a voice behind you saying, 'This is the way, walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21). As Valentine grieved for his dying patients, so the Great Physician grieves for His dying children. He identifies the stagnant water that breeds Satan's disease-carrying mosquitoes. It is up to us to eliminate it.
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