Categories: Sci/Tech

10 of the Scariest Diseases Known to Affect Humans

Warning: graphic images

The world is plagued with diseases that threaten mankind – diseases that bring pain, suffering, and despair to whoever may have the ill fortune of acquiring them. Often, some of these diseases may even result in death – if not a lifetime of torment.

However, among these hundreds of frightening diseases are the worst kinds. You may not have heard of some of them before, but believe us, they are worth knowing. Here are ten of the scariest diseases ever known to affect humans:

10. Noma (Cancrum oris)

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Noma is a rapidly progressive form of gangrene that affects the mouth, face, or genitals. It is caused by certain types of bacteria, including Fusobacterium necrophorum and Prevotella intermedia, and commonly affects severely malnourished children around the ages two to five years old. Noma typically occurs in Africa and Asia but cases have also been documented in Europe and the United States.

Noma eventually results in facial deformity.

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The bacteria infects the tissue around the mouth. Ulcers then develop and the tissues around the lip and cheeks die, eventually causing facial deformity and loss of teeth.

9. Emycetoma (Madura’s Foot)

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Emycetoma is a fungal infection that primarily affects the legs and feet but can also affect other parts of the body. It causes pus-filled hard swelling to develop on the feet, later hindering the person from walking or using their limbs. The infection can the spread to other parts of the body.

The infection begins as a painless swelling. Hence people do not consider the need for medical treatment which eventually leads to to late diagnosis.

Emycetoma is common in Africa, Central and South Americas, and in India. It is best prevented by keeping hands and feet clean and by using the appropriate footwear when stepping into fields or soil.

8. Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

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Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a condition that causes an individual to suffer from excruciating and debilitating pain at just a mere stroke of the skin. It results from the breakdown of the central nervous system, usually after a serious injury. Symptoms, including burning, stabbing, throbbing or grinding pain, may begin in the hands and may spread throughout the body. CRPS may also cause swelling, joint pain, numbness, and insomnia.

Research also revealed that patients suffering from CRPS may also develop mental health problems such as anxiety disorder and depression. Fortunately, CRPS is treatable through surgery and physical therapy.

7. Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease)

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Leprosy is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. It affects the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract and causes nerve damage. A person with leprosy develops skin lesions that have the potential to cause irreversible disfigurement if left untreated.

Leprosy is not a highly infectious disease but can be transmitted via droplets, often from the mouth and the nose, from untreated patients. The infection can be cured using multi-drug therapy.

6. Filarial Worm (Loa Loa Worm)

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The filarial worm worms its way into the eyes of its susceptible host and decides to live there. However, these worms do not exclusively lodge in the eyes for they can also live in other parts of the body. When that happens, the worm causes a condition called elephantiasis, where a person’s lower limb becomes severely enlarged, similar to that of an elephant.

Other clinical manifestations of filarial worms include intense abdominal pain, rashes, arthritis, and papules. The condition may be treated using anti-helminthics.

5. Vibrio vulnificus

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This species of the Vibrio bacteria can cause severe infection manifested by intense abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and blistering dermatitis. It can be acquired through eating raw shellfish, getting stung by stingrays, and swimming with an open wound. The bacteria can cause weakening of the immune system, affect the liver and the blood, and ultimately cause death if proper medical treatment is not sought.

It is believed that increased temperature and reduced salt levels lead to bacterial propagation.

4. Pica

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Pica is an eating disorder where an individual feels the compulsion to eat things without any nutritional value. Patients eat anything from dirt, paint, hair, to things as gross as feces. The dangers of pica include intestinal obstruction, anemia, infections, or toxicity from ingested substances like lead.

Pica occurs more commonly in children than in adults. Its treatment includes behavioral strategies utilizing a multidisciplinary approach with psychologists, physicians, and social workers.

3. Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP)

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Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an extremely rare disease that is also extremely difficult to treat. Normally, when our body undergoes damage, it heals itself. In patients with FOP, this healing also occurs, but the problem is that the damaged tissues, including muscles, tendons, and ligaments, are replaced with bones.

The new bones that develop do not have flexible joints so the affected individual ultimately loses the ability to move. Any further injury that the body sustains result in the development of more bones and causes more rapid deterioration.

A man named Harry Eastlake had FOP and lived up to the age of 40 years. He came to the point where his body remained completely immobile, except for his lips. He agreed to donate his body for the sake of science before he died and his skeleton is displayed at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

2. Systemic Capillary Leak Syndrome (Clarkson’s Disease)

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Systemic Capillary Leak Syndrome (SCLS) is a very rare medical condition that presents as recurrent episodes of massive leakage of plasma and blood components from the blood vessels to adjacent anatomical structures such as muscles and body cavities.

The disorder results in swelling of the face and extremities, weakness, nausea, and lightheadedness. And, as the fluids from the blood vessels continue to leak into the extravascular space, the patient’s blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level which can lead to organ damage and eventual death.

1. Elephant Man Syndrome

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A man named Joseph Merrick was born in Leicester, England in 1862. He was born healthy but began to develop lumpy skin, similar to that of an elephant, when he grew older. Thus, he was called the “Elephant Man.” His face became lumpy and his right arm grew several sizes to that of his left arm; both his lower extremities also grew excessively larger than normal.

The cause of Joseph Merrick’s condition remains unknown.

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Scientists remain baffled as to what actually caused Merrick’s condition. Some theories suggest that it is the result of a maternal impression, one that roots from a negative experience that could have caused Merricks mother to develop deep emotional trauma. Apparently, his mother was knocked down by elephants when she was pregnant with Merrick, so some believed that he got his condition from that incident.

However, others also believe that Merrick has a condition called Proteus Syndrome, a disorder caused by abnormal bone development and overgrowth, causing tumors to develop all over the body. Still, some experts suggest that Merrick’s condition is a combination of Proteus Syndrome and other disorders including microcephaly, neurofibromatosis, and hypertosis.

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