As a society, we are constantly trying to improve our health, and find ways for prevention and protection. Medicine and science have gone a long of ensuring longer life. The average life expectancy nowadays is close to 80 years on a worldwide level. Scientists are working hard nowadays to find a cure for cancer, as well as AIDS. There was a time scientists were trying to find a cure for other deadly diseases. You might be surprised, but some of the conditions we deem as harmless today, were once deadly to the point they can cause an epidemic.
Caused by the virus called Varicella-zoster, chicken pox is something you experience when you are young. Red blisters start appear on your body. Having chicken pox just once, gives you an immunity against the virus for lifetime. In 1995, a vaccine was developed against chicken pox. The FDA approved the vaccine, and has since reduced the risk of chicken pox, as well as complications of the disease. Children that get the vaccine are immune to the condition. It also reduces the risk of getting shingles later in life.
There was a point in history when three out of ten people infected with smallpox died. Thanks to vaccine, the highly contagious infectious disease was deemed “dead” in 1980. The World Health Organization always searches for new ways for vaccination, but smallpox is essentially dead nowadays. The vaccine was actually developed in 1796. But it took more than 150 years for the vaccine to spread all over the world.
Smallpox causes infected individuals to develop fever and progressive skin rash. Nowadays, scientists are looking for ways to improve the vaccine if smallpox are used as a bioterror weapon.
Most people remember polio from their early elementary school studies. You’ve probably studied vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk. There is no cure for polio, a disease that lead to paralysis and sometimes death. However, the vaccine can prevent the disease. While 95% of Polio cases are asymptomatic, there are also cases of symptomatic polio that manifest as flu-like symptoms to muscle paralysis and death.
A virus that grows in the cells in the lungs, measles causes cold-like symptoms and can often lead to pneumonia. Today, measles have a low rate. There was a Super Bowl outbreak during 2012, but those numbers are far lower than what we had a century ago.
For example, in 1962, four million people worldwide were diagnosed with measles, and 3,000 of them died. The first vaccine for measles was invented a year ago. The vaccine eliminates the risk of getting measles entirely.
The acronym stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has contained the virus so well, that it is no longer considered a legitimate threat. It cannot affect the public outside laboratory strains where SARS is being observed. SARS has not been circulating naturally since the epidemic strain in June 2003. At that time, SARS took 774 lives.
Nowadays, there is a vaccine for one of the deadliest diseases that ever hit mankind. Yellow fever manifests similar as regular fever at the beginning, but the symptoms quickly escalate and can become deadly and severe. Your skin also turns yellow, a condition called jaundice. The disease spread through mosquitos can be effectively prevented with vaccine today.
Similar as yellow fever, malaria starts with a mosquito bite. And it also manifests as flu-like symptoms, but they are much more severe. You get a headache that is unbearable, to the point you cannot perform your daily tasks. The number of malaria cases globally fell from 262 million in 2000, to 214 million in 2015. That is an 18% decline, and scientists are still working on containing the disease. Most cases occur in the African Region, followed by the South-East Asia region. Travelers and visitors to these areas can take a vaccine to protect against malaria. There are also injections that can cure the disease if diagnosed in the first 24 hours.
In the early 1900s, one in seven people died from tuberculosis. It was one of the deadliest conditions. Back then, people suffered from poor respiratory health. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria attacking the lungs. Nowadays, people can get a vaccine to prevent it. But there was a time when it was the leading cause of death in the US.
Another respiratory illness, diphtheria was popular in the 1920s. There were more than 200 cases of the condition per 100,000 people. In the Soviet Union, there was a big resurgence of the condition from 1990 to 1994. However, nowadays there is a vaccine for this respiratory illness that can turn into neck swelling.