Top 10 Rare and Bizarre Diseases in the 21st Century
From cannibalism-related Kuru to water allergies, where once some diseases were commonplace, they have now regressed to rarity, while others have reared their ugly heads due to genetic mutations and unholy habits. Many are not only rare, but also fantastically bizarre. After all, real life vampires are hard to imagine, wouldn't you agree?
Personally, these 10 diseases are the strangest of the strangest rare diseases that could be found today:
Microcephaly: Caused by both genetic and environmental factors, 1 in 666,666 children are born with or soon see a brain that has ceased to grow, making the head smaller than the average. About 25,000 children in the US are affected every year, many also developing learning disabilities and having other diseases in parallel. It is a lifelong condition that cannot be cured but there are some positive breakthroughs that help the children live an optimal life, considering the disease they are faced with.
Kuru: Found only in New Guinea highland Fore tribe, this degenerating disease is directly caused by cannibalism, where the living members of a deceased one's family consume his or her body and organs. 1,100 people were known to have died in the 50s and 60s, where most have gone into a comatose stage after being unable to eat or stand. It is also known as the "Laughing Death" for its uncanny ability to have those afflicted burst into sudden maniacal laughter. It was found that the brain began to deteriorate in a Swiss cheese fashion, meaning holes began to form all about, effecting limbs and coherence equally before death took hold. GOvernment crackdown on cannibalism has greatly decreased the occurrence of this disease.
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP): As one of the rarest diseases known in medicine, 1 in 2 million people around the world are affected due to a genetic disorder. Muscle, tendon and ligament tissue turns into bone when damaged because of this disease, only getting worse if one tries to remove through surgery. There have been 800 confirmed cases globally, with the skeleton getting thicker and joints fusing so that an individual might barely be able to move around the time of his or her death. The disease does not discriminate and hits everyone equally, regardless of age, sex or race.
Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria: 1 in 4 million children are affected by this disease, causing them to age prematurely and shortening life to a maximum of 20 or so years. Most die at the age of 13. First diagnosed in 1886, the disease has only about 130 recorded cases since. Prominent eyes, a thin nose with a beaked tip, thin lips, a small chin, and protruding ears are common facial features for these children. Their arteries harden early on and will bring on strokes and heart attacks without mercy.
Aquagenic Urticaria: Also known as water allergy, there have only been 30 known cases recorded of this disease, particularly in women both after the onset of puberty and later in life after having given birth. It is characterized by itchy white or red bumps which form after direct contact with water. These people will need to live in desert areas but very little information is known about them as a whole.
Foreign Accent Syndrome: Attributed to a stroke or traumatic head injury, only 60 known cases from 1940 have been recorded of this disease, where an individual starts speaking in an accent they might not have ever been exposed to either while speaking in their native language. The speech itself is not affected, simply how it is delivered, changing from American to British English, Korean to Japanese, etc.
Micropsia or Alice in Wonderland syndrome: It is believed that Lewis Carroll might have suffered from this condition, which would account for some of the passages in the book. Micropsia is the condition of seeing things as smaller than they actually are, both in terms of body parts and external objects, also associated with migraine headaches. Temporal lobe epilepsy is also common. How many people suffer from this disease is unknown, but the first documentations were made in 1952 and 1955 respectively.
Pica: Also known as Magpie, individuals with this disease will eat just about anything, without discrimination, for over 1 month. An iron or zinc deficiency is attributed to this disease, where up to 32% of individuals crave the most unusual things, including animal feces, soil, hairballs, ice, clay, paint, etc. There is no cure, but filling in the nutrient deficiencies may help with the problem.
Jumping Frenchman of Maine: With a name like that, its no wonder the condition makes the list of bizarre rare diseases. Mostly seen in French Canadian lumberjacks in the 1800s, it is the abnormal startle response with lots of jumping, screaming, flailing the arms, hitting, or throwing objects. It is usually developed in the teenage years after hitting puberty and is strongest in the younger ages, dampening as one grows. Mostly affecting men, it has been found in Louisiana, Malaysia, Siberia, India, Somalia, Yemen and the Philippines.
Ectodermal Dysplasias or Vampire Syndrome: Vampires live in our midst, at least the flesh and blood versions that are alive and very much human. Only thing is, these individuals have problems with their teeth (often being pointy), have sparse light hair, missing digits, are sensitive to the sun and will burn easily, cannot sweat properly if at all, or have sight and hearing issues. 7 out of every 10,0000 children are affected, born with a genetic mutation which turns them into non-blood drinking vampires.
These are some extremely bizarre conditions, but the National Organization for Rare Diseases has a whole lot more to read about.
What's the most bizarre disease you have heard of or read about?