Plague To Polio: 15 Childhood Illnesses That Are Making A Scary Comeback

Isn’t it great that we live in a world free of a lot of the serious illnesses that were so dangerous years ago? If the answer is yes, then it probably means that people have not been paying attention to what has been going on in the world lately. Sadly, a lot of the illnesses that plagued the children of years ago are making a huge comeback.

There are some things a lot of people would like to see come back: a state of world peace, flared jeans and butterfly clips may be a few of them. However, people definitely did not want to see a world where we are scared of contracting the plague or another one of those illnesses they thought was just part of a scary bedtime story.

Modern medicine has come a long way, and there are many ways to prevent these illnesses. Vaccines are the first step. When vaccines were introduced, a lot of these illnesses were pretty much eradicated. With more and more people refusing to vaccinate for various reasons it means that the world may be looking at a scary comeback. Vaccines are not an easy science. They are complicated, and they are only as good as the population allows them to be.

There are those out there who can not be vaccinated, whether due to young age or immune disorders. These people were once protected by herd immunity, meaning that if everyone else got vaccinated they would not be a carrier of the illness and therefore would not pass it on. Not only are healthy children who are not vaccinated falling victim to these illnesses, but it is spreading on to those who can not receive these shots.

Here are 15 childhood illnesses that are making a comeback and it is enough to give anyone a hard time falling asleep at night.

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15 Plague

A member of a medical team testing a baby for the plague in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. The child is infected and will be transported to a Hospital fortreatment. The plague has now killed 74 people, with 805 cases recorded. A week ago, the death toll stood at 33 with 230 people infected (AP Photo/Alexander Joe)

This entry is enough to terrify anyone because we all naively thought the plague was something we left in a world that we would not even recognize. That it was an illness that was left in the middle ages and that we would never see this illness rear its ugly face every again. Sadly, that day has come and while it may not be spreading as fast as it did years ago, it is enough to have anyone want to quarantine themselves in a shed.

This disease is quite persistent in parts of Africa, Asia and South America. If this makes one feel comfortable that it is staying miles and miles away from anyone in North America than they may want to skip this next section.

In 2015, there were 16 reported cases of the plague found in the United States.

Four of those cases were fatal. A 16-year-old girl from Oregon was sickened and sent to hospital after being bitten by a flea and contracting the plague. Bubonic plague is the most common form that is found in the US, followed by Pneumonic plague and septicemic plague. These are all serious and life threatening.

14 Leprosy


Leprosy sounds like it is a word from the ancient times, so one would assume that it is an ancient illness that we don’t really need to worry about. This is not true, and it would be foolish to believe so. There is currently an average of 150 cases of leprosy in the United States every single year. Most believe that leprosy is only contracted in remote places of the world were the illness is present, but we are learning that this is not exactly true. Recent studies have shown that leprosy is an infection that can be passed on by one of the most unlikeliest sources; Armadillos.

This means that a lot of the southern states are at risk of having an outbreak of leprosy. If caught early, this is treated easily with antibiotics.

Leprosy is defined as a chronic, progressive bacterial infection. It commonly affects the nerves of the arms and legs, the lining of the nose and the upper respiratory tract. It can result in skin sores, nerve damage and muscle weakness.

Leprosy is spread through the coming in contact with mucus of an infected person, which normally happens when they cough or sneeze. It is always important to be wary when you are around people showing any symptoms of being sick.

13 Polio

I don’t think many people thought they would see the day when Polio would make a nasty comeback, but sadly the day has come.

The World Health Organization has stated that the Americas, Europe, Western Pacific and Asia were all Polio free and this has given a lot of people a false sense of security.

They are left thinking the disease is gone and there is nothing more to worry about. The truth is, there is still very much reason to worry. There are a lot of countries who are still suffering with Polio, and there is always a chance that an infected person could emigrate to another country and bring back the start of this deadly disease.

Polio is a highly contagious disease that is caused by a virus that viciously attacks the nervous system. Do you know what the largest group of people are that commonly contract this illness? Well, children under the age of 5 are the highest percentage of victims. Some forms of Polio present with little to no symptoms but can end up paralyzing a person. It is important to get this vaccine as it is the only reason we can say that our countries are polio free (for now).

12 Tuberculosis


Tuberculosis, or TB as it is commonly called, is one of the oldest illnesses in records. The bacteria itself was discovered in 1882. At the time, 1 in 7 people living in the US and Europe died from TB, that is quite a shocking number of people. There is a vaccination for TB, but it is not routinely advised in Canada and the US, because it has limited effectiveness for preventing the illness. What works on this illness is antibiotics. Antibiotics have helped reduce the number of people who contract TB and it was once thought that by the year 2025, that the illness would be completely eliminated from the world, that is not the case.

It continues to persist, and it's fatal for between 2 and 3 million across the years. While we may not think of it as a problem in our western world, studies are showing otherwise.

In 2014, according to the CDC there were 9, 421 cases of TB in the US alone.

The year before showed that a total of 555 people passed away from this illness in the US. TB is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Those children who have compromised immune systems are the most at risk.

11 Scarlet Fever


Does everyone remember the novel ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’? It is a cherished childhood story about a young boy and his beloved stuffed rabbit. It has a semi-tragic ending in which the young boy develops Scarlet Fever and is ordered by his doctor to destroy all of his toys. Sadly, scarlet fever is not something that was made up for a storybook, it was a real and very dangerous condition and it is making a shocking comeback. It is a condition that has been forgotten about thanks to the introduction of antibiotics, but it is making its way overseas.

Researchers all over the world have been keeping on eye on the rise of scarlet fever and have found some shocking evidence.

The comeback can mostly be seen in Asia right now, with more than 5, 000 cases in Hong Kong and 100, 000 in China total. The United Kingdom is also seeing a rise with 12, 000 cases in 2015.

The outbreak has not made its way to Canada and the US yet, but we must wonder if it is only a matter of time until we all need to worry about it. It is cased by the same type of bacteria responsible for strep throat and commonly effects children aged 5 to 12 years of age.

10 Cholera


Cholera is the last one on our list of illnesses that are straight from your nightmares. Cholera is basically a fancy name for deadly diarrhea. There are more and more cases of cholera popping up all over the world and it is only a matter of time until it makes its way to the US. This disease is normally spread through infected water, so currently it is affecting children in lesser developed countries. In the most severe cases, death can happen within a matter of hours, so it is important to seek professional help if you show any of the symptoms.

What makes this even scarier is that most people who are exposed to this illness never become ill. They don’t even know that they have this illness. Once you are infected, you will shed the bacteria in your bowel movements for 7-14 days. Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and severe dehydration are all common symptoms. The best way to prevent yourself from getting this illness is to make sure you are drinking clean water. If you go to a foreign place on vacation, make sure your drinking water comes from a bottle and from a clean source. Do not drink from the tap or the ocean.

9 Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever may be the one that all mothers need to worry about because it is the one illness that when contracted by a young child or infant, usually ends up taking their life. It is the illness with the highest infant mortality rate. Typhoid fever is a deadly bacterial disease that is related to food borne illnesses like salmonella. Every year there are approximately 16-30 million cases a year and it results in more than half a million fatalities. Half a million people is larger than the population of Sacramento. That's a lot of people.

It is usually contracted by eating or drinking contaminated water.

The symptoms that it presents are high fever, abdominal pain, headaches and nausea. It is very important to be diligent about using clean food when you are introducing your little one to solid food.

Their system is not strong enough to offer a fighting change against an illness like this. This illness is on the rise in the United States. Oklahoma has recently seen an outbreak and it all started from one single family. Going to show how fast this can spread and how dangerous it can be. Florida is another state that has seen a steady rise in this illness.

8 Measles


It is no secret that Measles is making a comeback, it seems like we can not go a day without hearing about another confirmed case in Canada and the United States. In 2000, the United States stated that measles had been eliminated, but they spoke too soon. In 2014, there was a massive outbreak that started in Disneyland and affected almost a hundred individuals across 14 states. This rate is only growing and growing, and with all the unvaccinated children running around at the playground, then they are all at risk of contracting this potentially fatal condition.

There have been studies that show there are two very clear reasons why measles is making such a huge comeback in Canada and the US. One is due to infections from abroad and the other is the anti-vaccine movement.

Measles is not simply an illness that you treat with antibiotics and move on. It can have irreversible damaging effects on children. It can leave them with severe disabilities and can be fatal.

Vaccines can be scary, and there will always be risks involved, but they are the one reason why these illnesses where pretty much eradicated until now.

7 Chicken Pox


The Chicken Pox now has a vaccine, and it is an illness that we are only recently vaccinating for. It wasn’t too long ago that getting the chicken pox just seemed like a rite of passage for children. I got it and so did my siblings. There were even chicken pox parties, where parents would get all their kids together in the hopes of contracting it and just getting it over with. The times have changed, and chicken pox is not an innocent illness anymore. Chicken pox is a viral infection, meaning that it is very contagious, and it causes an itchy rash of spots all over the body as well as flu-like symptoms. Basically, it makes someone absolutely miserable.

The reason we get chicken pox is due to a virus called varicella-zoster virus.

This virus is also responsible for getting shingles later in life. After someone has the chicken pox, they are not immune to this virus, it just stays dormant in their system and sometimes reoccurs later in life.

Shingles is a condition that is very uncomfortable, painful and can be fatal. If a child receives the vaccination for chicken pox, they are less likely to contract shingles later in life and if they do it is almost always a milder case that does not cause any complications.

6 Whooping Cough


If you have ever heard a child who is suffering from whooping cough, you would make sure to always vaccinate your child for this illness. It is heartbreaking to hear a little one coughing and struggling to get a breath in. Whooping cough is a bacterial infection of the respiratory system which includes not only the lungs but the breathing tubes. Fun fact is that the reason it is called whooping cough is due to the way it presents in children. In between coughs, the child would make a “whoop” sound as they try to catch their breath.

Whooping cough is not like your regular cold, it can be fatal. Thousands of children used to be taken every single year due to this illness. In 1906, two French scientists discovered the bacteria that caused this illness and were able to create a vaccine to prevent this illness from occurring in our babies.

More and more children are not getting the vaccine, which means that all those babies who can not get vaccinated or are too young are all exposed.

Whooping cough is very contagious and is spread very easily between saliva through the air. If a child who has the bacteria in their system sneezes without covering their mouth, they have the ability to spread this illness while they are showing no symptoms at all.

5 Mumps


Mumps is another one of those illnesses that was just about eradicated when a vaccine was introduced. When the vaccine for mumps was introduced in 1967, the amount of confirmed cases of mumps dropped by 99%. Before this time, this illness was extremely common among adults and children. The numbers of confirmed cases are slowly starting to rise again, and it is something we all need to be concerned about.

The CDC reported that in 2015 there had been 688 reported cases of the mumps in the United States. 

There were outbreaks among universities in multiple states and even a mini-outbreak among hockey players. The reason for these unique outbreaks is because mumps is best spread in close and confined spaces. So, dorm rooms and locker rooms were the perfect breeding ground for this illness to spread. Symptoms of mumps include fatigue, fever, head and muscle aches, and loss of appetite. That is quickly followed by puffy cheeks caused by swelling of the salivary glands. There is no effective treatment, and one must let it ride out of their system and hope for no complications. Some complications could include hearing loss and meningitis. The only way to prevent contracting mumps is to make sure you vaccinate.

4 Leptospirosis

This seems like a mouthful and it is not an illness we see very often, but that may be about to change. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is spread through animal urine. Now, one may wonder how this is a big problem when we are not coming into contact with a large batch of animal urine every day. We may not be (on the western side of the world) but there are other places where this is a very real risk. Warm floodwaters are a perfect breeding ground for this bacteria, as a lot of people are constantly being in contact with this infested water.

In 2009, the Philippines were hit with a large tropical storm and with the rising waters came the rising level of the bacteria, which was contracted by a large number of people, 157 to be exact. Symptoms of this condition are not pretty; headaches, fever, kidney failure, and bleeding from the lungs. It is not just flood water we need to watch out for. Dogs in the US are the latest victim of this illness.

There were breakouts in both California and Colorado as recently as 2015 Raccoons are the major carriers of this illness, and we thought we just had to worry about rabies!

3 Syphilis


This next one may not be affecting our young children, but it may be a rising problem among our older teenagers and young adults, and that is syphilis. The first spike in the amount of syphilis infections was found no where else but Las Vegas. It is a complex, multistage bacterial disease that needs to be treated as soon as possible. In the very early stages it is quite treatable with penicillin, but that is only if it is caught early. If the disease is left untreated for a long period of time, there are some petty scary and serious side effects.

Syphilis that has been left untreated can result in an inability to control muscles, dementia, rashes, blindness and can even be fatal.

The cause of this illness is unprotected intimacy. Researchers are blaming a lot of this on apps on social media that make it easy to find an intimate partner. There is also a decline in the proper use of birth control. Despite popular belief, Las Vegas is not the number one state when it comes to cases of syphilis. Washington, DC holds the top spot all across America. Education is not only important to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

2 Diphtheria


One of the vaccinations our children receive is for Diphtheria, and it is important that they receive this vaccination. Diphtheria is a very serious bacterial infection that affects the mucous membranes of the throat and the nose. It is one of the illnesses that is spread easily, but it is also easily preventable with the vaccine. It can be spread from person to person through air, or the bacteria can also be found left on objects. What makes this disease scary is that even if an infected person shows no signs or symptoms they can still pass on the disease for up to 6 weeks.

The Diphtheria virus usually targets young children, and it is making a scary comeback. In 2015, Spain had its first case of the illness in 28 years.

The victim was a very young boy, and he contracted the illness because his parents refused to give him the vaccination for it. Here is the scary part, the bacteria contains a certain toxin that destroys human tissue.

It leaves dead membranes that coat the throat making it very hard for a person to breath or swallow. It then can enter the bloodstream and start to attack the organs. It doesn’t need to be said that this illness has the potential to be fatal.

1 Dengue Fever

This one may not be that common, but it is dangerous enough that it needs to be mentioned. Dengue fever is a mosquito borne disease and right now it is making its way through the tropics. If we have learned anything about illnesses carried by species is that it is normally only a matter of time until it makes its way over to North America. Whether on a traveller or just through migration. In 2015, Hawaii saw the largest outbreak of the disease, with 261 confirmed cases. There is a vaccine for Dengue fever, but it can be more dangerous than the illness itself and should only be given to those who have already had this illness.

The good news is that this illness can not be passed from person to person, one can only contract it if they are bit by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms usually appear about 4-7 days after being bit and they are often mistaken for flu symptoms. The best way to prevent contracting this illness is to prevent the presence of mosquitos. Get rid of any standing water, as this is breeding ground for mosquitos. Make sure that your child always has some from of bug repellant on them when outside, especially if you are travelling to a tropical spot.

References: health.comhealthline.comkidshealth.orglistverse.com

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