Blog, Disease Outbreak, Vaccines

2 Of The Worst Sicknesses From Long Ago Are Coming Back To Haunt Us


30478050_sMost of us living today may have moments of confusion when we are reading books written a long time ago. It sure seems like there were some very strange and scary diseases running rampant back then, with symptoms that we no longer recognize in this day and age because they have all been eradicated.

Or have they?

Scarily, there are several diseases that appeared to be wiped out decades ago, that seem to be making a comeback today. Here are some of the most scary ones and what we can do to prevent an outbreak.

1. TB, or Tuberculosis
This widespread illness was once responsible for the deaths of 1 out of every 7 people in the United States and Europe in the 19th century. Until the bacteria that causes it (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) was discovered, it seemed that there was no cure for the mysterious sickness known as “consumption”. With the invention of antibiotics, this disease was practically wiped off the face of society, especially in the United States.

However, even though most Americans today don’t give TB a second thought, it is actually starting to come back. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were over 9,000 reported cases of TB in the US in 2014, and over 500 deaths from the disease in 2013.

TB strikes when the Mycobacterium tuberculosis attacks the lungs. It can be spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or even talks. Generally, those who already have weak immune systems are going to be more susceptible to getting this infection. The symptoms of TB are a long lasting cough that often produces blood, fever, weight loss and fatigue.

Thankfully, TB is treatable these days, with several courses of different antibiotics taken over 12 months or so. However, it is an increasing worry that antibiotic-resistant TB strains may be rising up. It is going to be important in the coming years to cooperate on a global scale and help each other control cases all over the world and continue working on the development of drugs that can battle hardened strains.

If you think you have been exposed to a TB patient, see your doctor immediately to get tested and to start treatment as soon as possible.

2. Measles
Measles used to be a common, and sometimes deadly, common childhood disease. It used to be that almost every child in America would get the measles sometime in their childhood, and up to 500 people would die from it each year. In the 1960’s, a vaccine was developed for measles and since then, the disease has been all but eliminated from the United States.

But wait a minute! In 2014, just months ago, over 667 cases were reported. In 2014, an additional 189 cases were also reported. Most of these cases were tied to a single outbreak that happened at Disney theme parks in California.

Measles is extremely contagious and spreads by coughing and sneezing. In fact, the CDC estimates that 90% of those who are not immune to the virus will get it if they are at close proximity with someone who is infected.

The symptoms include fever, runny nose, cough and a rash that usually starts at the hairline and spreads downwards throughout the whole body. Complications can happen, and these include ear infections, diarrhea, and even pneumonia and encephalitis, both of which can be life threatening.

There is no cure for measles. So many may decide to get the measles vaccine. Of course, there vaccines are a whole other can of worms. But the main defense against measles is going to be prevention, and that should be our focus.

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Sarah P

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