Appendix D – Major Diseases of the World

BILHARZIASIS (Schistosomiasis) is a parasitic infection caused by a fluke of the genus schistosoma.  Its alternate host is a snail.  Transmission is from contaminated water such as rivers, and maybe caught by wading in water or ingesting contaminated water.  Treatment is difficult but proper sanitation and chlorinating water is effective in control.  Parasites plug small veins and often cause “river blindness”.

BLACK DEATH:  See bubonic plague

BUBONIC PLAGUE:  also “plague” This bacteria is transmitted to humans and other animals by fleas that bite infected rodents, especially rats.  The disease is usually fatal unless patient is given early treatment.

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE:  disease o4f the heart and circulatory system.  Disease is a common part of the ageing process, compounded by life style and heredity.

CHOLERA:  It is an acute infection of the intestines caused by a bacterium that causes the outpouring of watery fluid from the intestinal walls and resulting in severe dehydration and vomiting.  Transmission is through contaminated water or food.  It is common in tropical areas of Asia and Africa.  Children are especially vulnerable.  Dehydration may be treated with interventions fluids.

DENGUE FEVER:  (break bone fever) is transmitted by a mosquito.  It is rarely fatal.  It is accompanied by severe pain and often followed by depression and debility before return to normal health.

DIABETES:  (sugar diabetes) failure of the liver to produce sufficient insulin to utilize sugars and starches in a normal way.  The incidence of the disease may be heredity or obesity.  The actual cause of the disease is not known.

DIARRHEA:  any infection of the intestines that causes watery stool.  Vomiting and dehydration often accompany it.

DIPHTHERIA:  It is an acute bacterial infection.  The bacteria usually grow in the nose and throat and may infect other mucus membranes and skin.  The disease can be transmitted by a carrier or airborne droplets.  Widespread vaccination has been highly effective.

EBOLA VIRUS: The disease affects the digestive system and can cause internal hemorrhaging.  It first appeared in Africa near the Ebola River in 1976.  It is passed from person to person by syringes and through food handling.  The disease is sometimes present in foods with resulting illness.

ELEPHANTIASIS:  Infestation of the lymph channels by the filarial worm that enters the body by the bite of an infected mosquito.  Without successful treatment the channels are obstructed with resulting gross swelling of skin and underlying tissues, especially of genitalia and legs.

ENCEPHALITIS:  Infection of the brain by virus or other organisms.  The most common is a virus commonly transmitted by ticks and mosquitoes.  It may also be a complication of other virus diseases such as mumps, measles, herpes simplex, chickenpox, etc. It is most common in the tropics.

ENTERIC FEVER:  (a member of the typhoid genus) The effect is mostly in the intestinal tract, but the bacteria are present in the blood stream.

FILARIASIS:  A general term for infestation by any of several tropical worms.  See elephantiasis.

GOITER:  Swelling of the thyroid gland usually because of an insufficient ingestion of iodine.  It is  commonly found in interior lands such as the central United States and interior Africa.  Iodine is vital to adequate brain development.  This condition can be avoided by the addition of iodine to salt.  Seafoods are a good source of iodine.

GONORRHEA:  It is a sexually transmitted disease that, unless treated, may cause sterility and possible blindness.  It is very common worldwide.  About three million cases occur in the United States each year.

GUINEA WORM:  One of many parasites common to the tropics.

HEPATITIS:  Inflammation of the liver caused by any of several viruses.  Condition may be chronic or acute.  Hepatitis A may be spread in drinking water.  Other types are usually spread through infected blood products.

HIV-AIDS:  Virus that attacks the immune system.  It is spread through direct contact, usually through blood transfusion, by infected needles or unprotected sexual contact.  Remission is possible through medical treatment.  Failure of the immune system is eventually fatal.  Over thirty million people worldwide test positive for the disease.

HOOKWORM:   tropical parasite worm are found in moist, warm soil.  Infection may occur through bare feet, water, and food.  Once in the blood the worm passes through lung tissue and into the intestines where it feeds on body fluids.  It causes anemia and other problems especially in children.  Animals including dogs and cats may contract the disease and may pass it on to humans.

INFLUENZA:  It is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory  system by any of several viruses.  It lowers the body resistance to other diseases especially of the lungs.

KWASHIORKOR:  It is a severe form of malnutrition in children that results from inadequate intake of protein.  Common symptoms are swelling of abdomen, legs and feet.  Affected children do not grow normally and are listless and lacking energy.

LEPROSY:  (Hansen’s Disease)  It is a rod shaped bacteria.  Between 4 &5 million people worldwide are infected.  The disease primarily affects the skin and mucous membranes, especially the nose and throat.  Untreated cases may develop crippling deformities of hands and feet.     Leprosy is not commonly fatal but may cause blindness.

MALARIA:  It is a parasitic single cell organism that infects red blood cells.  Mosquitoes that carry the larvae are found in tropical and subtropical areas. including parts of the Southern United States.  Infected humans suffer from periodic high fevers.  Symptoms may be reduced by medical treatment.  Malaria is the number one killer of people worldwide.

MEASLES:  virus, highly contagious, lasting about 7to 10 days.  The major danger is the high fever and possible eye damage.

MENINGITIS:  Inflammation  of the membranes that cover the brain and the spine, bacterial.  Early treatment is necessary to avoid fatality.  Viral meningitis may be far less dangerous.  Meningitis may be bacterial, viral, or protozoan, requiring different treatments.  Other infections could lead to meningitis..

NILE VIRUS:  Virus transmitted by mosquitoes.

PELLAGRA:  Vitamin deficiency, (Niacin) is common among those with corn as a staple diet.  Symptoms include skin that is dry and scaly and sores in the mouth.  Lack of niacin for extended periods can cause dementia and death.

PERTUSSIS:  (Whooping Cough)inflammation of the respiratory system.  It is characterized by coughing.  It is quite dangerous in children but rarely in adults.  Complications include cerebral hemorrhage, hemorrhaging in nasal passages, and pneumonia.

PNEUMONIC PLAGUE:  details missing

RICKETS:  (deficiency of Vitamin D)  The body manufactures vitamin D when exposed to the sun.  Rickets is common only in areas with little sun.  It is most common in infants and growing children and results in slow growth, weak bones and enlarged joints.

SCHISTOSOMIASIS:  Bilharziasis or river blindness.

SLEEPING SICKNESS:  (African Trypanosomiasis)  It is common to tropical and subtropical areas of Africa.  It is an inflammation of the brain, causing sleepiness, weariness, fever and usually death.  It is transmitted by the bite of an infected tsetse fly.  Early treatment of the disease is usually successful.

SMALLPOX:   Virus, highly contagious.  The disease killed about 20% of its victims and permanently scarred the others.  In the New World where the disease was unknown, the disease, when introduced by the Spanish, wiped out virtually entire populations.

SYPHILLIS:  (a spiral shaped bacteria) an extremely contagious sexually transmitted disease.  It can also be transmitted through cuts and through the placenta to the fetus.

Syphilis is progressive with eventual damage to many organs and possible blindness.  The tertiary state, sometimes many years later, involves cardiovascular and other major organs and death.  Treatment is necessary to cure syphilis.

TAPEWORM:  It is a parasitic worm shaped like a long flat piece of tape. The head has tiny hooks that attach to the intestinal wall.  Behind are literally hundreds of segments, which contain eggs that are expelled with the feces and eaten by primary hosts, cattle, hogs, or fish.  The eggs hatch and the larvae are carried to the muscles of the host.  Eating poorly cooked meat will result in the passing into the human.  Tapeworms cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and loss of weight.  Worm-killing drugs are effective.

TRACHOMA:  Chronic infection of the membrane that covers the front of the eye.  It is common in areas of poor sanitation and is highly infectious.  Early detection and treatment is necessary to avoid loss of vision.

TRYPANOSOMIASISL  (See Sleeping Sickness)

TUBERCULOSIS:  (usually a bacterial infection of the lungs) (Mycobacterium Tuberculosis) infectious  may be transmitted through breathing droplets of infected mucus or sputum.  It may be caught from infected milk.  The disease normally infects tissue of one lung but may also infect the other lung or any organ or the bones.  The patient may develop immunity and the bacteria will be surrounded by scar tissue.  The disease tends to recur if the body’s immunity is weakened by certain drugs such as cortisone or by contracting HIV-AIDS.  Treatment takes at least 6 months but rarely over 18.  The incidence is high in crowded areas and inadequate diet.

TYPHOID FEVER:  (enteric fever)  Typhoid  fever is the most serious of the salmonella infections.  It is caused by ingesting contaminated food or contact with urine or feces of infected people.  Illness is severe with a high fever that lasts up to two weeks.  Among complications are pneumonia, diarrhea, and perforated ulcers that may require surgical repair.  Patients who recover may be carriers for some time.

TYPHUS:  Any of several related diseases caused by species of rickettsia with characteristics of bacteria and virus.  Among these are epidemic typhus, endemic typhus, scrub typhus, Rocky Mountain fever, and Q fever.  Various fleas, ticks, and lice may carry one of these diseases.  Many of these carriers are found on rodents.  Epidemic Typhus is frequently fatal.

WHOOPING COUGH:  (see Pertussis)

YAWS:  caused by a spiral bacteria indistinguishable from that of syphilis.  Yaws is spread by contact with the swellings of a diseased person and a break in the skin of another.  The disease cannot penetrate unbroken skin or the placenta.  The disease maybe easily cured.  Untreated yaws may have further complications over several years.

YELLOW FEVER:  It is a viral disease transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.  The disease is common in the tropics of Africa and South America.  The disease may damage many body tissues such as the brain and heart, but especially the liver.  Yellow coloration of the skin gives the disease its name.  Fatality rate is fairly low.  Recovery may be slow.