Being ill is seldom fun, getting pinned down by a particularly nasty cold usually results in a good few days of moping and generally feeling sorry for yourself whilst constantly blowing your nose. But it could be worse, I know medicine today is in many ways a blessing- however there are still frequent cases of devastating illnesses new and old that can act to infect a staggering amount of people over and unbelievably short period of time.
Far more under the control of humanity than in eras past, smallpox has been eradicated in its human form officially since 1979- despite this however; many countries continue to implicate required vaccination in way of precaution from the illness. Notorious in many parts of the world, the disease was known for its viral tendencies- spreading easily amongst humans and causing an uncountable number of epidemics throughout our history. Localizing in the blood vessels of the skin, mouth and throat- side effects are primarily maculopapular rashes and blistering of the skin- though the ailment was also known to frequently cause blindness and of course usually ended with fatality.
Also known as Hansen’s disease, Leprosy is caused by Mycobacterium Leprae, a germ that acts to affect the peripheral nerves, rendering them useless. Without use of such vital nerves, patients often neglect to feel pain and temperature in certain parts of the boy- usually leading to injury and the spread of opportunistic infection. Accounts of the disease date back several millennia, with a great stigma arising around it due to the myth that it causes the loss of limbs- a concept far more terrifying in days gone by. Leprosy is most contagious when allowed to develop in areas of poor hygiene and sanitation.
8. Typhoid Fever
Though not the most deadly ailment on this list, with a fatality rate of around 20 per cent- Typhoid Fever is nonetheless a vicious and sly manifestation. With symptoms that possess the ability to lie dormant for a staggering period of time after infection, the Fevers ability to spread unknowingly from person to person is uber-viral. Due to its method of transmission via ingestion of food and water contaminated with faeces of those infected, Typhoid Fever is also at its most effective in conditions of bad sanitation.
7. Bubonic Plague
As a Zoonotic illness, Bubonic Plague is spread from animals to humans- perhaps the reason for its undisputed notoriety in the middle-ages. Several epidemics of the infection have occurred throughout the world over the course of history, most notably in Europe- where it decimated an estimated half of the continents population during the 14th Century. Spread by flea infested rats, the disease infects the lymphatic system- attacking the immune system directly and causing death as quick as four days after the emergence of initial symptoms.
Though not thought of as a big deal today, Influenza or ‘flu’ has a long history of killing human beings. Highly contagious in most forms, the flu attacks the respiratory system causing fever, fatigue, coughing, congested sinuses, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and aching muscles. An estimated 36,000 people die a result of the flu in the US every year and it spreads primarily through contact, coughing and sneezing- often able to pass on up to one week before symptoms even develop.