There are a lot of diseases out there. We’re all familiar with common ones like the flu or the common cold, but what about the rarer ones? While we hear about them in the news every so often, they tend to be pretty obscure—until they suddenly become very common and start killing people. For example, one of these “rare” diseases was only discovered in 2009 after it killed over 100 people in a small village in Uganda: Ebola hemorrhagic fever. But that’s just one example; there are plenty more nasty illnesses out there that you’ve probably never heard about before (and hope never will).
The Sleeping Disease
The Sleeping Disease, a rare and fatal sleeping disorder, is caused by prion proteins. The prion protein normally found in the brain becomes misfolded and accumulates in the lymph nodes. This disease is not contagious like other sleeping disorders and can only be diagnosed through autopsy after death.
Starvation disease is a condition caused by a deficiency of thiamine, which is also known as beriberi. Thiamine deficiency is the most common cause of beriberi, which affects both internal organs and the nervous system. It can be caused by malnutrition, alcoholism or starvation. The first symptom of this condition is mental confusion and difficulty walking due to nerve damage that results in muscle weakness and tingling sensations in your fingers or toes. If left untreated, it can lead to permanent disability or death
The Laughing Disease
The Laughing Disease is a neurological disorder caused by an abnormal shape of the prion protein, which is a protein that occurs naturally in the brain. It’s a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, also known as TSE. The disease was first discovered in Tanzania in 1962, when people started to exhibit clinical signs of dementia and tremors.
The disease can be transmitted from person to person through contact with bodily fluids or contaminated medical equipment, though it cannot be contracted through casual contact or by eating infected tissue.
It’s also known as kuru (from the Papua New Guinean language for “shivering”), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and fatal familial insomnia (FFI).
Porphyria is a rare genetic disorder that can be caused by the deficiency of an enzyme called porphobilinogen synthase. This enzyme helps to make heme, which is a component in hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) and cytochrome c oxidase (an important part of the respiratory chain). If porphobilinogen synthase is not working properly, then heme cannot be made.
Porphyria causes severe pain and muscle weakness as well as vomiting and other gastrointestinal symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to skin lesions or photosensitivity—a reaction to light that causes inflammation of the skin. The most common form of porphyria is porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT).
Elephantiasis is a disease caused by a mosquito-borne parasite, and it’s one of the most common ailments that affect people living in tropical regions. Symptoms include swelling in the limbs, breasts, and scrotum. In order to treat elephantiasis and prevent further spread of the condition, doctors remove the parasites with surgery.
Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It’s caused by a virus that’s transmitted through saliva, usually from bites or scratches from infected animals (and sometimes humans).
The disease causes inflammation of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system, resulting in extreme fever, anxiety, confusion, agitation and hallucinations. Eventually it leads to paralysis and death.
Although rabies can be prevented with vaccines if caught early enough (before symptoms appear), it’s almost always fatal when contracted by humans—and there are no known treatments for people infected with this virus once symptoms start appearing.
Kuru is a disease that was found in the Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea. It’s a prion disease, meaning that it’s caused by an infectious protein. The Fore tribe practiced cannibalism and would eat parts of their dead relatives, including the brain. This allowed for transmission of kuru to occur when people ate infected brains, especially women and children who often consumed the brains during funerary rituals. These practices were banned in 1952, which led to a decrease in cases and eventually extinction of this terrible disease.
Guinea-worm disease is caused by drinking contaminated water. It’s spread in Africa, Asia and the Middle East by tiny sand flies that bite people and then pass on a worm called Dracunculus medinensis. The worms live in the veins of people for a year or more before they start to cause symptoms.
Some of these are fever, fatigue and joint pain—but others include itching around the infected area (often on your foot), which is followed by an excruciating burning sensation when you pee or poop from being bitten by a small insect called a water flea (or Leptodirus sp.).
If you’ve been infected with guinea worm, there’s no cure for it—but you can prevent it from spreading to others by using a filter or boiling water before drinking it.
Buruli ulcer is a skin and soft tissue infection caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium ulcerans. It can cause skin lesions, bone destruction and abscesses, which may require surgical treatment to drain the pus. In some cases, it can also lead to death.
The disease was first identified in Australia in the 1930s, but has spread to other parts of Africa and Asia over the past few decades. It’s not known exactly how many people have this condition—though experts estimate it may affect tens of thousands annually—and there’s no cure yet developed for it.
However, there are treatments available that can help reduce pain or remove infected tissue surgically if necessary. The bacteria that causes Buruli ulcer has also been linked with other diseases such as bacillary angiomatosis (causing blood vessels to grow out of control) as well as an eye condition called necrotizing keratitis (involving severe scarring).
Not all diseases are known and some are very strange.
It’s important to understand that not all diseases are known and some are very strange. For example, there is a disease called the “Acantholytic Dyskeratosis of the Palate.” This is characterized by a blistered appearance on the roof of your mouth and it may cause problems with speech. It can also cause problems with eating and drinking.
It’s also important to understand that some diseases will only affect certain populations, such as “Warts in Stressful Situations” which affects people who work in stressful situations such as jobs where they have to deal with difficult customers or clients on a regular basis.
While there are many more diseases that could be included in this list, we hope that you have gained a better understanding of some of the most interesting ones. From sleeping sickness to elephantiasis and everything in between, it is clear that the medical world has much left to discover!