Human beings may be one of the few species on the planet with the gift of self-consciousness; however this defends our plain biological constitution from the plague of illness in very few ways. Over our long history, epidemics have come and gone, some causing absolute devastation and others mere confusion. Today we shall look at 10 of the most peculiar illnesses that continue to affect our species.
10. Cotard’s Syndrome
Also known as Cotard’s delusion and, get this, ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome’- this illness causes the sufferer to take upon with full belief the certainty that they are in fact dead or dying inside. The affliction is thought to be mostly psychological, being attributed to head and brain trauma. Though it sounds like some kind of hoax brought on by the recent obsession with zombies in popular culture, the first reports of the disorder date from the 1880’s, when French neurologist Jules Cotard first described his encounter with a sufferer in a Paris lecture.
This one you may have heard of already, unless I’m mistaken- the illness seems to have garnered a fair amount of interest with documentarians in recent years. Attributed to a parasite brought about a particularly nasty breed of mosquito, ‘lymphatic filariasis’ or ‘elephantiasis’ as it is more commonly known- is quite a shocking condition. Once infected, it can take years for symptoms of the condition to form- during this time filarial worms infect the lymphatic system of the patient in their millions, eventually causing the uber-englargement of certain areas of the body.
8. Periodic Paralysis
Exactly what it says on the tin, periodic paralysis acts to completely paralyse areas of/entire human bodies for a temporary period- with times ranging most commonly between a few hours and a few days. The condition is caused by failing ion channels in nerve cells which limit the omission of signals from the brain meaning limbs are unable to respond. Though it can be treated with regular exercise, periodic paralysis is, as of yet, completely un-curable.
7. Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis
Another condition which has come to light in recent years,’ Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis’ or, in its less Latin form ‘Tree Bark Skin Disorder’ is an ailment both beguiling and bizarre. As one of the rarest known genetic conditions on our planet, the skin disorder causes growths to form en-mass on the skin of the sufferer. As though this wasn’t bad enough, the wart like growths are pushed into overdrive by the human papilloma virus causing huge portions of the body of the afflicted to appear as though it were tree bark.
This rare, widely hereditary condition causes the skin of the sufferer to appear as though it were blue. Characterized by a higher than usual level of methemoglobin in the blood, the affliction causes dramatic alteration in the complexion of the carriers skin. Other symptoms of the ailment include shortness of breath, headache, fatigue and exercise intolerance.