7 Deadly Diseases You Thought Were Extinct

We're all familiar with diseases like Bubonic plague and leprosy, at least in the context of history. But did you know that these diseases are still around - and still killing people - today?

Written by:

March 1, 2016

7 Deadly Diseases You Thought Were Extinct

Although increasingly more rare, deadly illnesses like rubella and scarlet fever are still a threat to humans around the world. How many of these diseases did you know were still around today?

1. Bubonic Plague


Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The sickness that caused the infamous Black Death that hit in the year 1347 – killing a third of the human population at the time – is still around. In fact, CNN reported in October that there were at least 15 cases of the plague in the United States in 2015.

“The bacteria that causes the plague, Yersinia pestis, is naturally occurring in the environment and is found in areas where there are wild rodents,” CNN reports. “People usually become infected from fleas that have fed off of an infected rodent such as a rat, squirrel, or chipmunk.”

Luckily, if caught early, the disease can be treated with antibiotics nowadays.

2. Leprosy

Leprosy is a contagious disease transmitted by contact with an infected person. It causes damage to nerve and skin cells resulting in disfiguring sores and permanent disabilities. The number of global leprosy cases has dropped significantly in the last 30 years, from 5.2 million in 1985 to 216,000 cases in 2013. The disease is still a problem in parts of India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

3. Rubella

Rubella, also known as three-day measles, isn’t talked about much anymore. However, in the 1960s the disease was rampant in the United States. Between 1964 and 1965, an estimated 12.5 million rubella cases led to 11,000 miscarries and 20,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome, leaving children blind, deaf, handicapped, or dead.

Although rubella isn’t a major fear in the United States since a vaccine was licensed in 1969, the disease still affects people in places like Africa and southeast Asia.

4. Scarlet Fever


Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Have a sore throat, fever, and red rash? You might want to get checked for this disease.

Before the availability of antibiotics, scarlet fever was a major cause of death across the globe.  From 1840 to 1883, fatality rates of scarlet fever were higher than 30% in parts of the United States and Europe.

In 2014, more than 14,000 cases of scarlet fever were reported in the United Kingdom as there is still no vaccine for the easily spread illness.

5. Tuberculosis

You don’t hear about it a lot, but tuberculosis is now the world’s biggest infectious killer, ahead of HIV. Known as the “White Plague” when it ravaged 18th-century Europe, tuberculosis infected more than 9,400 people in the United States in 2014 and killed an estimated 1.5 million people around the world in 2013. TB is treatable, but drug-resistant forms cause further challenges in controlling the disease.


Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

6. Polio

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s debilitating illness is still affecting people today, but on a much smaller scale than in the 1940s and ’50s. The virus that can cause paralysis disabled around 35,000 people annually in the United States until vaccines were developed in the 1950s. According to recent data, just 73 cases of the polio virus were reported in 2015, all in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

7. Measles

While many children in the United States get vaccinated for this highly contagious disease, it is the leading cause of death among young people according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The group reported 145,700 deaths in 2013 – which comes to 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour.

The disease, which lives on surfaces for up to two hours and is spread through sneezes and coughs, will infect 90 percent of non-immune people exposed to it, according to the CDC.

Want to learn more about the microscopic viruses and bacteria that affect millions of people around the world? Read about the Zika Virus that was declared a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” by the WHO because of its effects on babies’ development when pregnant women are infected. There are also other deadly insects, like fire ants and Asian hornets, that can kill with venom instead of infections.

Give STEMJobs A Like
By | 2018-01-16T16:13:47+00:00 March 1st, 2016|Featured, Real World, STEM - Science|0 Comments

Leave A Comment