Though very uncommon among humans today, especially in the developed world, rabies was a constant threat for our kind just a couple of hundred years ago. Characterized by symptoms as diverse and erratic as foaming from the mouth, a new found fear of water, hostile delusions and violent hallucinations- the illness attacks the nervous system directly- aiming itself towards the brain in particular. Spread through the saliva of an infected animal (an animal suffering from aforementioned delusions etc) it was widely feared throughout the entire world until a vaccination was developed in 1885. Despite this cure, rabies still kills some 50,000 people every year.
A mosquito borne disease, Malaria has the ability to infect human beings without any warning or restraint whatsoever. Characterized most typically by severe fever and headaches, the condition can often lead to coma’s and even death. Most common in tropical and subtropical climates, malaria parasites arise from the genus Plasmodium and can vary in seriousness depending on the case itself as well as the medical resources available.
Also known as ‘beaver fever’ Giardiasis is an internal parasitic infection caused by the ingestion or exposure to infected volumes of water. As one of the most common waterborne diseases in America, it is expected that the infection is zoonotic- with the belief that beavers (among other animals) may be responsible for the spread of the infection into lakes, rivers and reservoirs- hence the pseudonym.
Dermatophytosis, or ringworm as its most commonly known- is a condition brought on by a fungal infection of the skin. A common misconception in relation to the illness is that its symptoms are caused by a breed of parasitic worm, when in fact they are completely the result of several species of fungi. Though far from deadly if taken care of properly, ringworm’s ability to spread from person to person is unrivaled due to the fact it must only come into contact with the skin and not the internal organs/cells.
As the condition which inescapably leads to AIDS, HIV or the Human immunodeficiency virus to give it its full title is the most recent epidemic to strike at our species. Believed to have emerged in Africa in the late 19th Century, the condition leads to the deterioration of the immune system- leaving sufferers extremely vulnerable and at the whim of opportunistic infections, ranging from the most deadly of tumors to the most common of colds. Elevated to the status of pandemic as of 2009, HIV/Aids effects an estimated 33 million people in the world today, with an annual death toll of around 1.8 million. The virus is transmitted through direct contact of a mucous membrane of the bloodstream with a bodily fluid already hosting it- most commonly through unprotected sex and the use of contaminated paraphernalia among drug addicts.