Diseases are, in general, pretty bad. They range from mildly annoying to overwhelmingly lethal, and nobody lives their entire life completely unscathed by illness. But you can tell how nasty some diseases are just from their names. My dad’s an ER doctor and he told me some of the grossest-sounding diseases (including infections, which is a gross word in itself) he could think of. I really hope I never get any of these disgustingly-named diseases.
1) Necrotizing Fasciitis
If you’re familiar with Latin, this name should strike fear into your heart — its common name is flesh-eating disease. Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare infection of deep levels of skin that causes your skin to rot while still on your body. And then it falls off. All the pictures are too gross to put on here so google image search at your own risk, weirdos!
2) Screw Worm Infestation
The Latin name for the Screw Worm is Cochliomyia hominivorax – with hominivorax roughly translating to “eater of man”. Screw worms lay their larvae in an existing wound, and when the larvae hatch eight to 15 hours later, they burrow into the skin and cause intense pain and itchiness. The worms even drill down to your bones and nerves and enter your bloodstream. One of the ways to get them out is to stuff their breathing holes (the holes in your skin) with — and this is true — bacon, which causes the worms to flee, either to eat the bacon or to avoid being suffocated by it.
3) Botfly Infestation
Similar to the screw worm, the bot fly is a parasite that lays its eggs in human hosts. Unlike the screw worm, though, they don’t need a pre-existing wound. The fly just lays her eggs on the human host and the maggots do the rest of the work, burrowing into the skin and sometimes the digestive tract.
4) Brain-Eating Amoeba
Every year, a few people die from this rare and absolutely terrifying infection. The amoeba goes into the patient’s nose and on towards their yummy, yummy brain. Symptoms like headaches, seizures, vomiting, and coma begin in two to 15 days, and most patients are dead within five days of symptom onset. Only a few people worldwide have ever survived. A couple people have also gotten brain eating amoebas from using tap water in their neti pot, so boil your water for at least a minute or risk your brain getting eaten! Whee!
5) Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Also known by the equally terrifying name Mad Cow Disease, this disease causes a spongy degeneration of the brain and spinal cord. The disease started when cows in slaughterhouses were fed meat and bone meal from other slaughtered cows (cows are herbivores and most certainly not meant to eat their own species). Then people ate the meat of those cows, and their brains turned to mush. Sounds kinda like some really sick karmic retribution. In humans, the disease is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and causes neural degeneration and, in every case, death.
This one’s a classic! Syphilis is a sexually-transmitted infection that is now easily treatable with antibiotics. For millennia, though, syphilis caused terrifying and fatal reactions. Early syphilis presents as pustules and rash. Later on it can become an infection of the central nervous system and cause massive disfiguration. This picture is a bust of a person with late-stage syphilis.
7) Anal Fissure
Anal fissures are just what they sound like — painful anus cracks!
Any truly nasty-sounding diseases I missed? Tweet me @erikaheidewald!