Diseases That Have Been Eradicated, Or So You Thought!
You may be under the impression the 12 diseases on this list have been wiped from the face of the earth. If you believe that, you are wrong.
So what, you live in a developed country, there’s no reason for you to worry, it’s only the poor countries dealing with these old diseases, right? Wrong again!
You’re not alone, most people in the United States believe these diseases have been eradicated and are no longer a concern. The truth is a little bit bleaker than that.
Continue reading “12 diseases that have been eradicated, or so you thought” below
The Black Death
As hard as it may be to believe, you can still die from the Black Death in 2022, Yes the Plague! It’s true, Black Death in 2022 is the same Black Death that swept through Europe in the 14th century, killing an estimated 25 million people.
It’s still around and while unlikely it’s possible you could get it today. Unless you’d like to live as Jake Gyllenhaal did in Bubble Boy, it’s impossible to be 100% certain you won’t contract this harbinger of death. The odds are miniscule, but not zero.
People In the United States Catch the Black Death Every Year!
Every year there are between 1 and 17 people in the United States unlucky enough to catch the plague. There’s no doubt, the same amount will catch the Black Death in 2022!
According to the CDC, bubonic & septicemic plague pop up in the United States each year, mostly in the West. Caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, the plague is transmitted via flea bites or contact with infected rodents or dead animals, and causes fever, weakness, and excruciatingly swollen lymph nodes.
Septicemic plague also causes a blood infection, making skin and tissue turn black and die. Cases are only rare today because sanitation and hygiene practices are much better than they were in medieval times. The bacteria itself is still out there waiting for an opportunity to kill.
Transmitted by infected mosquitoes, yellow fever starts out with flu-like symptoms and can lead to a very high fever, internal bleeding, seizures, organ failure, and possibly death.
While a vaccine for yellow fever exists, there often isn’t enough of it available when an outbreak occurs, which is what happened in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016.
The most recent outbreak started in 2017 in the jungles of Brazil, near Rio and Sao Paolo, and the CDC issued a warning to U.S. travelers strongly recommending that they stay away or get vaccinated before visiting affected areas.
You may be asking yourself, how dangerous can a cough be? Extremely.
Also known as whooping cough or the 100-day cough, pertussis starts out like a traditional cold but then leads to a cough so severe that it causes vomiting, a red or blue face, and extreme fatigue. It is characterized by a “whoop” sound as the person afflicted with it gasps for air.
According to the CDC, there are an estimated 200,000 cases in the United States each year and 20 infant fatalities. Babies under two months old are at the most risk because they are too young to be vaccinated.
Doctors recommend that pregnant women get a Tdap booster shot, along with anyone else who will be in close contact with an infant—such as significant others, grandparents, and caregivers—since the vaccine’s effectiveness may wear off over time.
Unfortunately, vaccines don’t last forever, which can help explain a recent surge in mumps cases among vaccinated college students.
In 2010, only a few hundred cases popped up around the country, but in 2016 alone, there were more than 6,000. Mumps is spread through saliva, nasal mucous, and close contact with an infected person.
Those who contract mumps will experience flu-like symptoms and a painful swelling of the salivary glands, but complications could include meningitis, encephalitis, miscarriage, and hearing loss.
Rickets sounds like it should be left in the history books and only spoken about in whispers, but this disease, which causes bowed legs and weakened bones in children, is rearing its ugly head in the 21st century.
Caused by a severe vitamin D deficiency, rickets can be prevented with exposure to sunlight and the consumption of certain foods, such as fatty fish, egg yolks, and vitamin D–fortified milk and cereal.
Known risk factors include living in northern regions where there isn’t much sunlight; having dark skin, which doesn’t produce as much vitamin D; taking certain medications; and exclusively breastfeeding and not supplementing a baby’s diet with vitamin D drops.
Although, fewer than ten people in the United States contract rubella (German measles) each year, it is still a risk when traveling abroad.
Symptoms—which include a rash, a headache, and mild fever—are generally not serious unless you’re pregnant. If you are pregnant and contract rubella, it can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth, as well as cause severe problems for a fetus, including deafness, eye damage, and heart defects.
Transmission occurs primarily through coughing, but up to 50 percent of those infected are asymptomatic. After a serious worldwide outbreak in the early 1960s, which saw 12.5 million Americans infected, rubella vaccinations became standard, and today, rubella protection is wrapped up in the childhood MMR vaccine.
The good news is, Polio—an infectious disease that can cause muscle weakness, paralysis, and death—has been almost completely eradicated worldwide. But that took a massive, coordinated, 30-plus-year vaccination effort by a number of health organizations, including the WHO and the CDC.
While the last case of polio in the United States was diagnosed in 1979, it is still endemic to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria; cases only number in the dozens, though. There is no cure, and once the infection starts, it has to run its course, which is why prevention is so important.
According to the WHO, if all polio vaccinations were halted today, the infection rate could skyrocket to 200,000 cases per year within ten years.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious, airborne disease that was a leading cause of death in the first half of the 20th century.
Active TB is characterized by a weeks-long cough that often produces blood, chest pain, fever, and fatigue; generally, treatment requires up to nine months of antibiotics.
Approximately 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with it every year. However, as NPR reports, multi-drug-resistant TB is on the rise, and it is becoming a particularly big problem in Russia, India, the Philippines, and South Africa.
A major health issue in the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries, typhoid isn’t something you hear much about here anymore, though it’s still an enormous global problem; 21.5 million people are infected every year.
About 5,700 U.S. cases are reported annually, but three-quarters of the victims caught the disease overseas. Spread through contaminated food and water, typhoid causes high fever, weakness, gastrointestinal problems, and often a rash; if untreated, it is fatal for one in four people.
A typhoid vaccine is recommended before traveling to a high-risk area, and antibiotics are prescribed to those infected. While antibiotics have been incredibly effective, typhoid has recently become resistant to some of them, worrying the medical community. Some studies put resistance rates around 35 percent.
I admit, I thought for sure scurvy was one of the diseases that have been eradicated, but I was wrong. If you are anything like me, I bet the word scurvy fills your head with images of pirates on the open Sea. I’d be willing to bet, you didn’t think about people living in developed countries when you read the word scurvy. Yet, it’s a surprisingly big problem in certain populations in the United States—namely, those who are poor, homeless, or mentally ill, and those who don’t have access to proper nutrition.
A 2009 CDC study found that up to 17 percent of low-income people in the United States suffer from it, while hospital admissions for this disease rose by 27 percent in the United Kingdom between 2009 and 2014. So, what is scurvy? It’s characterized by swollen gums, tooth loss, anemia, fatigue, and a rash, and it’s caused by a severe vitamin C deficiency. While highly treatable, it is often misdiagnosed because it’s not on doctors’ radars.
You might be shocked to learn not only that leprosy hasn’t been eradicated but that there are around 6,500 people living in the United States with it, with 100 to 200 new cases diagnosed each year.
Now called Hansen’s disease, it is a bacterial infection that attacks the skin, peripheral nerves, upper respiratory tract, eyes, and the lining of the nose. If it’s not treated, it can cause disfigurement, nerve damage, hand and foot paralysis, and blindness.
It is a terrifying disease, but it responds well to multi-drug therapy, and after a few doses, those infected are no longer contagious. An overwhelming majority of people are also naturally immune to the disease.
Hansen’s disease can be contracted from armadillos, who can be carriers of it, or through extended contact with an infected person.
Cholera is one of the diseases that have been eradicated in the United States but not the world. It is still a worldwide pandemic, afflicting people who live in areas with poor sanitation conditions and water treatment.
Caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with fecal bacteria, cholera leads to violent diarrhea and dehydration so severe that death can occur within hours.
It is treatable with oral re-hydration salts and IV fluids, and an oral vaccine is also available. Over the past decade, there have been outbreaks in Zimbabwe, Haiti, and Cuba, though the biggest recent cholera crisis was in Yemen in 2017, during which one million people were infected.
Conclusion to 12 Diseases That Have Been Eradicated, Or So You Thought!
Did it surprise you that any of these were still around? Don’t forget to share!