While the stats show that most women are having babies
Thanks to modern technology we can now have up to the minute news on basically any interest you could have. We know where are friends are and what they are doing, endless cute animal videos, and countless streaming apps that allow you to watch whatever you want any time. Yes, technology is great and we use it every day. But, we should also appreciate the technology we don’t see every day. Thanks to medical science we now have vaccines for hundreds of awful diseases that plagued (no pun intended) our ancestors for years. So when you get a cold or the flu this season, remember that it could be worse and you could have one of these…
In addition to dysentery, I remember my character’s dying of Diphtheria a lot while roaming The Oregon Trail. Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness that can be caught when a person breaths in secretions (GROSS) of an infected individual. The results are “bull neck” aka severely swollen neck, fever, chills, fatigue, blue coloring of the skin, sore throat, etc. Basically, Diphtheria starts out resembling a cold or flu and then turns into an extremely abhorrent disease.
During the 1920s there were between 100,000 and 200,000 cases of Diphtheria in the US; 13,000 to 15,000 people a year died from it. Thankfully, in 1974 WHO (World Health Organization) added the DPT vaccine to their program of immunization. As of 2013 there have been 0 reported cases of Diphtheria in the US.
While not usually deadly, Yaws is an extremely disfiguring disease to have. It’s a tropical based disease that infects skin, bones, and joints. It’s also a slow moving disease, starting out with several hard bumps on the skin that can develop in to ulcers that take three to six months to heal. A person with Yaws can still be affected weeks to years with symptoms such as painful joints and bones, fatigue, and new skin lesions.
Thanks to the Global Control of Treponematoses Programme (TCP) the disease went from 50 million cases a year world-wide to less than 2.5 million between 1952 and 1964. Today, WHO is reporting that Yawas will be completely eradicated by 2020.
Rinderpest (aka Cattle Plague) was a very infectious viral disease that afflicted cows, domestic buffalo, some antelope, deer, giraffes, wildebeests, and warthogs (poor Pumba). The disease would show itself in the form of fever, oral erosions, diarrhea, tenesmus (bowel strain), and lymphoid necrosis. In short, these animals were dying regularly and fast.
But why have I included this disease on this list if it doesn’t affect humans? Because as of June 2011 it was officially declared completely eradicated. That makes it only the SECOND disease to be completely destroyed (the other being Smallpox).
Of course, I couldn’t make this list without including one parasite could I? Like many other worm based diseases, this one is spread through water. It isn’t until a YEAR later that an infected person even knows they have the parasite. The symptoms include a burning feeling as the female worm forms a blister in the skin, usually on a lower limb. It takes weeks for the worm to come bursting out of one’s skin and in the meantime it can become very difficult to walk or work. As terrible as that all sounds it’s actually very uncommon for people to die from. But, humans are also the only living being that these worms infect so you win some you lose some.
There is no vaccine or drug therapy for Dracunculiasis but eradication is underway by making water sources safer. As of 2013 there were only 148 cases of this parasite infecting people in 5 countries (South Sudan, Mali, Ethiopia, Chad, and Sudan). The CDC, the WHO, UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation lead the eradication movement.
Pertussis, or Whooping Cough, is probably the most well-known disease on this list. It’s a highly contagious bacterial infection that usually lasts around 100 days. The coughing starts off mildly enough but after a while the coughing worsens and produces a high pitched “whoop” sound, hence the name.
Whooping cough still exists but with the urging of the WHO and CDC to be vaccinated the disease has decreased significantly. However, the vaccine doesn’t make you immune forever. It’s recommended that you get vaccinated every 3-6 years. I’m way overdue. The vaccine is estimated to have saved over half a million lives in 2002.