Most of the illnesses we get throughout our lives aren’t deadly and can be cured by the effective treatments that already exist. The following diseases are extremely dangerous for humans as these can kill you within a day.
The bubonic plague is one of the deadliest diseases in history. In the 14th century, it killed over 50 million people. Contrary to popular belief, the disease still exists, mostly cases are found in Africa, Asia, and South America.
The disease is caused by getting bitten by a flea from an animal that carries the bacillus Yersinia pestis, like a rat. The most common symptoms are fever, vomiting, delirium, and swollen lymph nodes. Bubonic plague is fatal in 30% to 60% of cases.
The Ebola virus has caused thousands of deaths in Africa. The disease is transmitted by blood, secretions, and other bodily fluids from contaminated animals (chimpanzees, gorillas, gazelles, etc.). A person with Ebola can then transmit it to another person by direct contact.
After an incubation period of 21 days or fewer, the first symptoms appear: fever, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat, followed by more serious symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and internal and external haemorrhaging. Sometimes it takes a mere 24 hours between the onset of symptoms and death. The mortality rate is 25% to 90%.
Cholera is an intestinal disease caused by drinking water or eating food contaminated by a bacteria called Vibrio cholerae. According to the World Health Organization, 21,000 to 143,000 people die every year from the disease.
After an incubation period of 12 hours to five days, the disease causes severe diarrhea. Without proper treatment, the infection causes severe dehydration and, shortly thereafter, death. It is important to treat the disease as soon as symptoms appear. With proper treatment, the mortality rate is less than 1%. Without treatment, one in two people will succumb to the disease.
Meningitis is an infection of the meninges caused by a virus or bacteria. The disease occurs more often in babies and young children, but adults are still susceptible. It is most often contracted after being in contact with the saliva of someone who is already infected.
The symptoms of meningitis are similar to the flu: headache, fever, stiff neck, and sensitivity to light. Unfortunately, the disease is far more dangerous than the flu—one in two people die from it and 10% to 15% of survivors suffer from severe neurological damage for the rest of their lives.
Better known as flesh-eating disease, necrotizing fasciitis is a bacterial infection affecting the body’s soft tissues. It typically enters the body through open wounds or small cuts.
The most common symptom is necrosis of the skin (the epidermis turns black and purple). But before this happens, the infected person will present with a fever, chills, and red areas on the skin. In most cases, to slow the spread of the infection, doctors often have no other choice but to amputate the infected member—if the bacteria hasn’t already killed the patient. Approximately 30% to 40% of people who contract necrotizing fasciitis end up dying.
Fulminant hepatitis has several causes, such as herpes and shingles, but it is usually caused by hepatitis A and B, hence the importance of getting tested regularly.
No matter the cause, see a doctor right away if you notice several of these symptoms: severe fatigue, stomach pain, and jaundice. Fulminant hepatitis is deadly in 40% of cases. It attacks and destroys liver cells. Without this important organ, the body is unable to detoxify, which quickly leads to death. In an advanced state, the only cure is a transplant.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotics. It is contracted by direct contact with someone carrying the bacteria.
In general, MRSA presents as red bumps that are swollen and filled with pus, warm to the touch, and painful on the skin. It is usually enough to drain the pus to get rid of the infection. However, the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or the urinary tract. The disease causes fever, chills, confusion, and muscle pain. In 10% to 30% of cases, the patient dies not long after the appearance of symptoms.
Enterovirus D68 is a virus that attacks the respiratory tract. It is transmitted by saliva and coughing. Babies, children, and adolescents, especially those with asthma, are most at risk.
The symptoms are often flu-like: fever, runny nose, coughing, sneezing, and muscle aches. If left untreated, enterovirus D68 can cause significant respiratory problems, quickly leading to death. According to one study, roughly one in 10 people who have contracted the virus will lose their life.
Acute pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas. In some cases, the inflammation evolves into necrosis that can be fatal.
The first symptoms of the disease are digestive problems and severe abdominal pain that radiates to the back. These symptoms often appear after a meal. Some people also suffer from nausea and vomiting, along with fever, sweating, and difficulty breathing. Acute pancreatitis has a mortality rate of 5% to 30%.
Chagas disease is caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, transmitted to humans by triatomine bugs, also known as “kissing bugs.” Six to seven million people, mostly in South America, are infected, according to the WHO. Chagas disease has two phases. During the first phase, which lasts about two months, the patient won’t notice any symptoms.
After entering the patient’s bloodstream, the parasites spread to the heart and digestive muscles. The patient would then suffer from cardiac or digestive problems, such as heart failure or arrhythmia. This is the second phase. If left untreated, the disease can cause sudden death. Luckily, the treatment is nearly 100% effective if administered in time. The mortality rate is relatively low: less than 5%.