Some Of The Worst Diseases Are Still With Us
Putting together a list of the worst diseases isn't particularly difficult, the only problem being the adjective "worst" can be at times subjective. By worst diseases, do we mean those that have caused the most deaths, or those which are incurable, or those which are treatable but still have a high mortality rate?
Many of these worst diseases have been recorded in history as being terrible epidemics or pandemics, killing thousands or millions in short periods of time. Some of these diseases are no longer particularly common, smallpox and bubonic plague being examples, but cannot be said to have been eradicated once and for all. Other diseases have caused millions or deaths, but over a period of many years, and even centuries, the common flu being an example.
The worst diseases in some countries are different from those in others. Malaria is still very common in some tropical countries, but is rather rare in the United States and Europe. Heart disease is much more common in the United States than in Japan, and Ebola strikes mostly within the African continent.
The Sneaky Killers - In the United States we seldom consider the common flu as one of the worst diseases. The flu is a disease most every one has, often several times, and for some it strikes almost on an annual basis. We consider the flu to be a more of a nuisance, recognizing that there are strains which can be deadly, though often the fear is worse than the actual outcome. Still, the flu causes more deaths annually than does HIV. Heart disease is another disease that is somewhat insidious, in that many are unaware they have it, and the disease isn't always a killer, although it still is one of the leading killers in the United States.
Dread Diseases - When we think of the worst diseases we often call them dread diseases, and cancer no doubt leads the list. A couple of generations ago polio and tuberculosis were the dread diseases most feared, and even farther back it was diphtheria and the smallpox. Around the turn of the century, the 20th century that is, yellow fever was certainly one of the dread diseases.
Many of the worst diseases are either preventable or the number of cases can be reduced by taking certain precautions, typhus and cholera being examples, where sanitation and good hygienic practices can usually keep theses diseases at bay. Some diseases, like typhus and cholera often occur in tandem with natural disasters, when good hygiene and sanitation practices become difficult or impossible to practice.
Most of the worst diseases are highly contagious, or they wouldn't be among the worst, yet malaria and cancer are not contagious, and for that matter neither is typhoid fever.
Are Malaria And The Plague The All-Time Worst? - People could argue on and one about what the worst diseases are or the worst disease is, but in the latter case, malaria seems to be at or near the top of most lists, mainly because of the number of people affected by it and the number of deaths it causes. Historically, the Black Death or bubonic plague also ranks near the top. Visit some of the churches or cathedrals in Europe, those which have been standing since the Middle Ages, and among the murals and ornamentation you'll often find skulls, crossbones, or reclining skeletons. These have nothing to do with Halloween, but are reminders of when plagues swept the continent. Also on the list would have to be a collection of diseases which decimated the Native Americans from the 18th century on. The Native Americans had no immunity against many diseases, including smallpox and tuberculosis, which traveled across the ocean in the company of European settlers.
No matter what the worst diseases are on someone's top ten list, you wouldn't want to catch any of them.