The recent oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has the attention of the public as few events in recent history. Many are concerned about the current and long-term effects of the oil spill.
Environmental fears may be justified in the ensuing weeks, ranging from the destruction of coastal wetlands and beaches to contamination of the amazing variety of their wildlife inhabitants. Fuel prices will inevitably rise, with the narrowing of offshore drilling for oil, further weakening the tenuous western economy.
Worry also centers around the devastating impact of the oil spill on the vast coastal fishing and marketing industries. Vendors who supply an array of ocean delicacies and the restaurants that serve them are uneasy.
In a Bloomberg Business Week article of May 31, 2010, "Oil Spill Imperils Gulf Coast Fishing Industry," it's noted that "Louisiana is the largest seafood producer in the lower 48 states, with annual retail sales of about $1.8 billion, according to state data. Recreational fishing generates about $1 billion in retail sales a year, according to the state."
While the economic impact of the spill on the livelihood of those dependent on the fishing industry is certainly enormous, there may be a small upside. Consider one aspect often ignored in the consumption of coastal shellfish, which include shrimp, oysters, crab, clams, mussels, winkles, scallops, lobster and crayfish: the effects of marine-borne diseases.
These effects are listed in an October 12, 2005 publication from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases: Division of Bacterial Diseases:
Marine toxins are naturally occurring chemicals that can contaminate certain seafood. The seafood contaminated with these chemicals frequently looks, smells, and tastes normal. When humans eat such seafood, disease can result.
The diseases caused by shellfish can be deadly. The publication continues:
Paralytic shellfish poisoning is caused by a different dinoflagellate with a different toxin, than that causing ciguatera poisoning ... Shellfish that have caused this disease include mussels, cockles, clams, scallops, oysters, crabs, and lobsters.
Symptoms are generally mild, and begin with numbness or tingling of the face, arms, and legs. This is followed by headache, dizziness, nausea, and loss of muscular coordination. … In cases of severe poisoning, muscle paralysis and respiratory failure occur, and in these cases death may occur in 2 to 25 hours.
Neurotoxic shellfish poisoning is caused by a third type of dinoflagellate with another toxin that occasionally accumulates in oysters, clams, and mussels from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast of the southern states ... As in ciguatera poisoning, some patients report temperature reversal. Death is rare. Recovery normally occurs in 2 to 3 days.
Amnesic shellfish poisoning is a rare syndrome caused by a toxin made by a microscopic, red-brown, salt-water plant, or diatom called nitzchia pungens. The toxin produced by these diatoms is concentrated in shellfish such as mussels and causes disease when the contaminated shellfish are eaten. Patients first experience gastrointestinal distress within 24 hours after eating the contaminated shellfish. Other reported symptoms have included dizziness, headache, disorientation, and permanent short-term memory loss. In severe poisoning, seizures, focal weakness or paralysis, and death may occur.
Wisdom is an element in preserving good health. Anciently, God revealed principles of diet, which, if followed, would help insure physical well-being:
"These you may eat of all that are in the water: whatever in the water has fins and scales, whether in the seas or in the rivers – that you may eat. But all in the seas or in the rivers that do not have fins and scales, all that move in the water or any living thing which is in the water, they are an abomination to you …you shall not eat their flesh" (Leviticus 11: 9-11).
There are consequences when we stray from instructions given for our own good. Send for our free reprint article "Do You Want to Eat that?"
Disease-inducing pathogens are increasingly becoming more resistant to modern miracle drugs. Will we come to a point when illnesses are no longer medically treatable and become widespread?
In Exodus 15: 26, God told the Israelites that He was the God that could heal them. But that healing was provisional depending upon their conduct.