Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pandemics and Epidemics

In defining a pandemic, a closely-related term, epidemic, must be defined first. An epidemic occurs when new cases of a certain disease occur in a given human population, during a given period, exceed the normal rate of new cases over a specific period of time. Defining an epidemic is subjective, depending on how much is perceived to be the "normal" rate of new cases per a specific period of time. Due to this subjectiveness, a few cases of rare diseases may be classified as an epidemic while many cases of a common disease, e.g. common cold, would not.

A pandemic is an epidemic of an infectious disease that spreads through populations of a large region, for instance a continent, or even worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a pandemic is announced when three conditions have been met:

  1. Emergence of a disease new to a population.
  2. Agents infect humans, causing serious ilness.
  3. Agents spread easily and sustainably among humans.

It is important to note that a disease may only be considered pandemic if it is infectious. A disease such as cancer, which causes a large number of deaths worldwide, may not be called a pandemic because it is not infectious or contagious. Pandemics often trigger a global action, usually regulated by the WHO. For example, the 1955 Global Malaria Eradication Campaign which involved spraying insecticides in designated areas of the world such as the United States and India.

The world is currently worried about the recent outbreak of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus or more commonly known as the "swine flu." One of the worst pandemics in history, the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, was also caused by a strain of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus. It is estimated that the the pandemic killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide. There is a fear that the swine flu may also possess pandemic potential, thus individual safety measures need to be taken immediately.

Considering that a pandemic usually starts suddenly and ends suddenly, a pandemic or an epidemic is certainly a reminder by Allah to His servants who are always forgetting Him; and as a reward for the wrongdoers.

We shall test your steadfastness with fear and hunger, with loss of life and property and crops. Give good news to those who endure with fortitude, who in adversity say: 'We belong to God, and to Him we shall return.' God's blessing and mercy will be upon them; they are rightly guided. (Al-Baqarah: 155-157)

Reference: Wikipedia and other sources.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Introduction to Ilmaneus


     Ilmaneus is a Latinised name of the owner of this blog, Ahmad Ashraf Ilman. Contrary to popular belief, Ilman is not an ordinary human, which their ternary name is Homo sapiens sapiens ssp. Instead, this unique creation defines a new subspecies of the Homo sapiens sp., bearing the the ternary name of Homo sapiens ilmaneus. This subspecies differs from the nominate subspecies by the way of thinking, e.g. using scientific terms to write his autobiography on a personal blog.

     Ilman shares a few common characteristics with a sizeable breed of the ordinary human, one of which is he is taking English for Science and Technology (EST) papers for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM). Based on this fact, Professor Irumanisu Gyokishiki from the Department of Ijtihadian Taxonomy of Ibn Khaldun University made a hypothesis that Ilman's purpose of creating this blog is to improve his scientific writing so that he may score an A1 in his SPM.

     Ilman possesses a high affinity towards science. This is proven by the title of his blog, Ilmaneus Scientiam Amat! which means "Ilman Loves Science!", says Professor Gyokishiki. It is known that this blog is not his first blog, as he currently owns a minimum of four blogs which are updated regularly. A detailed study of his other blogs shows that he may plan to use this blog to relate science with the greatness of God and as a medium of spreading the words of God through science. About his view on the Darwinian Theory of Evolution, he is reported to say,

I am a 100% non-believer of the Theory of Evolution. Everything and everything is created by Allah. Similarity between organisms in respective taxonomic ranks is a sign of His greatness. Each subspecies is created by Allah, as there is no way the genetic information of a living thing can change by "chance."

     Commenting on Ilman's statement, Professor Gyokishiki infers that Ilman is a devout Muslim, based on the fact that he refers to the Creator as ALLAH. As about his location, a lot of studies had been carried out but his exact location cannot be confirmed. Scientists have different views on his whereabouts, with the majority of them saying he is in Malaysia, but some evidence show that he may be in Japan or Egypt.

Source: Ilmaneus: An Introduction, Irumanisu Gyokishiki et al.