Journal of the San Juan Islands


Ignorance holds health hostage | Letters

June 4, 2014 · Updated 3:57 PM

Now that two incubation cycles of measles have passed, we can, at least for now, breathe a collective sigh of relief.

All who worked so hard and long to limit the spread of disease are to be heartily praised.

However, the overseas sources of the virus remain active, are just a plane ride away, and we continue to play “whack-a-mole” with measles  all around the continent.

I am reminded of the last paragraph of Albert Camus’ “The Plague”:

“And, indeed, as he listened to the cries of joy rising from the town, Rieux remembered that such joy is always imperiled.

He knew what those jubilant crowds did not know but could have learned from books: that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years in furniture and linen chests; that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves; and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and the enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

Camus employed a terrible illness as a metaphor for fascism. For us, it is the duality of microbial infection and of the fascism of ignorance. The struggle goes on…

Dr. Mark Fishaut, San Juan Island


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