4 diseases that once threatened humanity but no longer exist

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4 diseases that once threatened humanity but no longer exist

History has witnessed many dreaded diseases that ravaged people’s lives, from smallpox to the plague. Complete disappearance of pathology is very, very rare. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are only two of them: smallpox and rinderpest. Although the diseases we mentioned in this article no longer exist today, they have not completely disappeared. But while they were once a threat to humanity, they are no longer seen as a threat. Let’s take a look at what these four diseases are.

1. Smallpox

Smallpox, which has been a nightmare for humanity for centuries, has become one of two diseases that have been completely and officially eradicated. Its origin is unknown, but there is evidence that it has existed for at least 3,000 years.

Smallpox has killed hundreds of millions of people in history. No matter rich or poor, young or old, at least 1 out of every 3 infected people dies. His symptoms were also terrible: a high fever, vomiting, and mouth ulcers, followed by fluid-filled lesions all over the body. Those who contract the disease usually die within two weeks. The survivors showed lasting side effects such as blindness and infertility. In addition, those who survived the disease were ostracized by the community.

The earliest written record of the disease dates back to the fourth century in China. There is also some evidence of smallpox in 7th-century India and 10th-century Asia Minor. How did this disease disappear?

In 1796, an English physician named Edward Jenner realized that maids who had previously had cowpox did not develop smallpox. Jenner believed that cowpox provided protection against smallpox. The doctor then tested his theory by infecting a young boy named James Phipps with the disease. Over the next few months, Jenner repeatedly exposed the 9-year-old to smallpox, but the boy never developed symptoms. In 1801 he published his treatise On the Origin of Vaccine. Over time, vaccines became widely accepted and people recovered from this deadly disease.

2. Diphtheria


Diphtheria is a bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheria. The name “diphtheria” is derived from the Greek word diphterite, which means “skin” or “hide”. Affected people form a thick membrane in their throats, which makes it difficult for them to breathe and, if left untreated, will eventually suffocate to death. The toxin in the bacteria can also affect the heart. The diphtheria mortality rate was as high as 20% for children under 5 and adults over 40. For others, it ranged between 5% and 10%.

This disease has a long history. The first records of diphtheria date back to the early 17th century. Cases are thought to increase as cities grow and people move from the countryside to busier and more crowded cities.

Disease became a major problem in the nineteenth century. During the Industrial Revolution, it caused the death of many people living in the poor conditions of cities. An antitoxin was developed in Germany to treat this disease. It was not until the 1920s that Gaston Ramon developed soxoid at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. It seems that the disease has finally subsided. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Low vaccination rates in the Soviet Union led to a significant increase in cases. Then the vaccine spread and the disease disappeared again.

3. Leprosy

Leprosy was a common disease, especially in the Middle Ages. Since the disease caused disfigurement of the skin, the sick person could be easily identified. Leprosy is an infection caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium leprae. It affects the skin, nerves, eyes, and nose. It is believed to have first arrived in England in the fourth century and stayed for centuries. In severe cases, it can lead to loss of fingers and toes, gangrene, blindness, nasal collapse, ulcers, lesions and bone weakness.

Between the late 11th century and 1350, there were 320 homes and hospitals caring for lepers in England. These are often found on the fringes of villages and towns near major travel routes or crossroads.

Gradually, cases of leprosy began to decline. We still don’t know exactly why. But over time, it is believed to be caused by people’s increased immunity. Accordingly, most leprosy hospitals have been converted into regular hospitals or nursing homes. Although the disease is no longer present in the western world, it continues to occur in other regions where there is no medical infrastructure.

4. Phosphorus (phosphorus necrosis)

This disease, known as “phosphorus,” is a little different from the other diseases on this list. Because it is the result of human work. More specifically, this disease was caused by the industrial revolution.

In the 19th century, it was discovered that when yellow phosphorous was added to match heads, matches ignited more easily. Accordingly, the sector took action and factory owners began to get rich. But this situation is beginning to hurt the men and women working in the match factories.

Inhaling the toxic chemicals in yellow phosphorous has caused a disease called “phosphorus phosphorus.” Victims’ mouths would develop horrible abscesses, and eventually their facial features would be distorted. In some cases, the cysts have become so bad that they have caused fatal brain damage.

One of the best sources on this disease is the article “Total Removal of the Mandible” written by James Rushmore Wood in 1857. The study included details and explanations of Wood’s operation on a person with the disease.

The person featured in the article is 16-year-old Cornelia, who worked in a New York match factory for two and a half years. The girl had a toothache and swelling on the right side of her lower jaw.

Although one tooth was extracted, the swelling gradually worsened. Despite this situation, he continued to work at the factory until December 17, 1855. He was eventually taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he was reported to be suffering from pain from chewing, pain in his jaw, swelling of his face, and damage to the bone of his lower jaw. Wood decided he needed surgery. Cornelia’s right side bone was removed without anesthesia. However, the operation was not entirely successful. He underwent a second surgery in February, and this time the rest of his lower jaw was also removed. After a few days, he was said to have improved and his face was almost back to normal.

In 1906, the Berne International Convention banned the production of phosphorus matches, and the disease disappeared.

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