So you’re nervous about an Ebola outbreak, huh? Unfortunately, there’s plenty of other horrifying diseases to keep you up at night, diseases that may not be more worrisome, but a lot more plausible, than Ebola. To keep your mind off of the apocalyptic scenes in Liberia coming to our shores, here’s five other diseases you should be more concerned about:
1. Superbugs. The Washington Examiner has focused on strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, or Superbugs, this week.
The World Health Organization put the health risks bluntly in a report earlier this year on the threat of antibiotic resistance.
“A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century,” the organization warned.
Long prescribed by doctors as a fix for a variety of maladies, antibiotics have been relied on too heavily, both through personal use and in the nation’s food supply, causing bacteria to evolve to the point of resisting them.
2. The flu. Yes, the common flu is really something that should scare you. Check out this graph of the life expectancy of the average American over time. You see that dramatic dip in 1918? That’s thanks to a worldwide flu pandemic. Could another pandemic as serious as 1918’s, where an estimated 30-50 million died worldwide, be just around the corner?
3. Polio. We’ve seen vaccination rates nationwide drastically reduced thanks to vaccination skeptics like Jenny McCarthy. Public health officials have called the phenomenon a public health crisis. Thankfully, the United States has not had a case of polio since 1979, when a group of unvaccinated Amish children contracted the disease. As we learned with the first U.S. case of Ebola, we live in a global world. While the United States has not seen an outbreak in decades, other countries with less robust vaccination programs haven’t been so lucky. One afflicted passenger stepping off the plane from Pakistan into a vaccine resistant enclave like Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Brooklyn could trigger a U.S. outbreak of polio – an unthinkable horror.
4. Other vaccine preventable diseases. Unlike polio, we have already seen a resurgence in previously controlled, though not eradicated, diseases like the measles and whooping cough. With every passing year since vaccine skepticism has gone mainstream in this country, we’ve seen more widespread and serious outbreaks nationwide.
5. Enterovirus D68. Also known as non-polio enterovirus, this strain of virus has been sweeping the country, causing hospitalizations and even the sudden death of a previously healthy New Jersey boy. The number of confirmed cases of the virus in New Jersey has jumped to the double digits, and has been confirmed in 43 states and the District of Colombia. Unfortunately, the symptoms are similar to that of the common cold or flu. ABC News explains the symptoms,
Notably, Enterovirus D68 usually presents without a fever. The most common symptoms are a persistent cough and runny nose. Parents should seek medical attention if their child starts wheezing or has trouble breathing, especially if they have a history of asthma or other respiratory problems.
Rare symptoms might include weakness or paralysis in the arms, legs or facial muscles, though health authorities have not established a definitive link between these warning signs and the virus.
Which diseases make you most nervous? Share your comments below.