Thanks to the coronavirus, the world is freaking out. The truth is, these epidemics take us by surprise. No one knows how they work, and they take time to cure.
The good news is, the coronavirus is not the worst virus we’ve ever experienced. And in all likelihood, it will clear up in a few months.
In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to write about some of the other major viruses that have taking humanity by surprise. I hope you find it as interesting as I did!
The Ebola Virus
In February of 2014, the Ebola virus was in all the headlines. Due to the exotic nature of this disease, it was one of the scariest epidemics the world has ever seen. The initial symptoms were fever, body aches comma and diarrhea. But as the virus spread throughout the body, it dealt significant damage to the immune system and organs.
In the final days of the virus, patients would suffer from severe, uncontrollable bleeding. What made this virus so scary, was the enormous death rate.
To put it into perspective, right now experts believe the coronavirus has around a 2% death rate. And because we don’t know how many minor cases there are, the reality is the death rate is probably quite a bit lower than that. Which means most people who get the coronavirus will survive. Ebola, on the other hand, originally had a near 100% death rate. Fortunately, we’ve learned a lot about the disease since 2014 comma and we can now treat it very effectively.
The Ebola virus did not end up spreading to developed countries as experts initially feared. And I think we can all be thankful for that!
The Rabies Virus
The rabies virus is incredibly rare. Yet it remains one of these scariest viruses. Why? well, for starters, there is no cure. There’s a vaccine you can get if you believe you have it. If you get this vaccine in time it will prevent it. The problem is, rabies may show zero symptoms for anywhere from 6 months to a year after you contracted it. and by the time you show symptoms, it’s already too late.
Rabies is contracted from being bit by an animal who also has the disease. Because of how serious this virus is, it is so important to get your rabies shots if an animal bite has broken your skin. Thankfully, in developed countries rabies is very, very rare.
The HIV Virus
The HIV virus is one of the most famous viruses of all time. When people first started getting infected in the late 80s, no one knew why. Unlike diseases like the cold and flu, it was initially impossible to figure out who you got it from. Scientists also had no idea how it spread. They didn’t know if it was airborne, required physical contact, or really anything else.
In addition, HIV is another virus that can take anywhere from 6 months to a year to start showing symptoms. Today, we have amazing treatments for patients with HIV. It’s no longer the death sentence it once was. And some experts say it could be completely eradicated from the USA just 10 years from now. Although the virus has been absolutely horrific, it has led to some of the most effective antiviral treatments we have.
The Dengue Virus
The dengue virus is a virus that affects poor, impoverished countries, much more than wealthy ones. First of all, this disease is spread by mosquitoes. In the United States and other developed countries, most mosquitoes are not carrying dengue. If you did happen to get it, with proper medical treatment, it’s mainly just a severe flu.
Yet if you live in an area without medical treatment comma the dengue virus has a mortality rate of 20%. The most common symptom is a severe fever, leading to the name dengue fever.
The Polio Virus
The polio virus represents one of the most frightening time periods in world history. Because of how the disease infects the spinal chord, leading to paralysis, it was an incredibly scary disease to be around for. Additionally, it would often infect children, who had their entire lives ahead of them.
That being said, 72 out of 100 people who contracted the polio virus showed no symptoms. So actual paralysis and death was rare. And even in those who did become paralyzed, most survived. Still, the idea of getting the disease caused mass spread panic.
Ironically, it’s believed that the better hygiene in the early 1900s actually led to the spread of this disease. Because if a child got polio very young, they still had help from their mother’s immune system comma and could easily defeat the disease, granting them immunity for life. Because of improved hygiene, children ended up getting the disease much later. Without the support of their mother’s immune system, it turned into a much bigger problem.
Viruses are something we still deal with in our day-to-day lives today. Thankfully, medical advances have made it so the majority of us never need to worry about it. Although new viruses still happen, they lead to new developments that make us even safer. Who knows, in the future maybe our children won’t even know what the word virus means.