Saturday, 1 October 2016

Has The 'Intelligent Designer' Been Tweaking Zika?

Fatal Zika Virus Infection with Secondary Nonsexual Transmission - NEMJ Correspondence

Parasites in general and viruses like the zika virus in particular continue to be an embarrassment to creationists who insist everything is intelligently designed for a purpose.

The main embarrassment of course is in explaining why it designed them in the first place, although 'The Fall' is regularly trotted out as the excuse. But, this gives away the fact that the 'intelligent (sic) designer' is the Christian god and that intelligent design 'science' is fundamentalist, Bible-literalist Christianity posing as science to try to sneak past the 'Establishment Clause' in the US Constitution.

But parasites are embarrassing for creationists in another way. There is almost invariably some sort of arms race between parasite and host as the host gains a way to resist the parasite and the parasite gains a way to overcome this resistance, and so the cycle of resistance and overcoming resistance is repeated endlessly until some sort of balance is achieved or a symbiotic relationship emerges as the parasite provides some sort of benefit to the host in return for being tolerated.

The embarrassment is of course in explaining why an designer let alone an intelligent one would bat for both sides in this arms race and why it would have designed a parasites then redesigned a host to resist it in the first place.

Now, the zika virus is a relatively new phenomenon, at least in the rate at which is has spread, in it ability to exploit different species of mosquito as the vector spreading it, so humans have not yet had time to develop natural resistance to. It is particularly embarrassing for creationists in the way it affects its human hosts. Normally, in the vast majority of cases it causes only mild symptoms which may even go unnoticed - a bit like mild flu symptoms for a few days followed by complete recovery. Where it does harm humans is in the way in which it prevents normal brain development in unborn babies causing microcephaly.

Creationists have not yet managed to explain why their intelligent (sic) designer appears to have recently decided to design handicapped human babies with underdeveloped brains and has chosen to use a virus to achieve this result. What sin exactly did these innocent victims of this 'intelligent designer' do to deserve a short life of dependence on others?

Now we learn that the 'intelligent designer' may have tinkered a little with the zika virus design to make it not only much more virulent, even fatal to adult humans, but also potentially highly contagious.

In a letter to the New England Medical Journal, Sankar Swaminathan et al, of University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City, UT, describe how a 73 year-old man from Ohio who travelled to Mexico where he was bitten by a mosquito and so got the zika virus, has recently died quite unexpectedly of septic shock and multiple organ failure. His blood was found to contains levels of zika virus particles some 100,000 times those normally seen. Moreover, a 38 year-old male visitor who wiped away his tears and helped him adjust his position in bed has also been found to have caught the same strain of the virus even though there are no mosquitoes capable of transmitting the virus in Ohio and no sexual contact (the only known way the virus can be transmitted between humans) took place. Nor had the second victim had sex with anyone else who had recently travelled to Mexico.

The virus is believed to be slightly different to the variety normally found in Mexico, although it is 99.8% the same.

Transmission of flaviviruses through intact skin and mucous membranes has been demonstrated experimentally in animals but remains rare. Only a single previous instances, the transmission of dengue, has ever been demonstrated to have occurred in humans.

Has the 'intelligent designer' been tinkering as an experiment to find better ways to kill humans with its nasty little new plaything? Creationists need to take responsibility for their 'intelligent design' notion and explain this to us.


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