6 Weird and Terrifying Illnesses That Are Still a Mystery - Dangerously Genocidal


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Thursday, 25 May 2017

6 Weird and Terrifying Illnesses That Are Still a Mystery

The world is filled with mysteries… but when you visit the local doctor’s office, you really don’t want to hear “I’ve never seen this before,” or any variation thereof. There’s nothing as terrifying as hearing that whatever you’ve got making you sick is something the professionals can’t explain or cure. And when it’s a really strange illness… well, that certainly doesn’t help the situation one bit. Here are:

6 Weird and Terrifying Illnesses That Are Still a Mystery

1. The Dancing Plague

In 1518, in a lovely little town called Strasbourg, a woman named Mrs. Troffea decided it was a good day to dance. Over time she was joined by more and more people; 34 people joined her within the week, and a month later a crowd of over 400 people was participating in the "merriment".

No one is sure how it started, or why Mrs. Troffea took the streets to do her little jig. But the dancers wouldn’t stop; many of them danced themselves to death. One of the surviving documents claimed that the "dancing plague" killed around fifteen people per day; not surprisingly, mainly from strokes, exhaustion and heart attacks.

Doctors and priests became more and more concerned; they claimed everything from astrological causes to “hot blood”. The nobles finally decided that the only way to cure the dancers from their illness was to help them along – stages and bands were set up so that the dancers could continue dancing, night and day. In fact, the nobles went so far as to pay the musicians to keep the people dancing to their deaths.

A lot of theories have been developed as to what might have caused the “Dancing Plague”, with explanations ranging from stress-induced psychosis, to a very persistent foot fungus – but no one knows for sure what caused the sporadic medieval outbreaks.

You’ve got to give it to those old timers though – according to one historian, not even modern marathon runners would have been able to keep up with this medieval fatal foxtrot.

2. Brainerd Diarrhea

First recorded in 1983, Brainerd Diarrhea was named for Brainerd, Minnesota. It was both the location of the first reported outbreak and is still the location of the largest case. A hundred and twenty-two people found themselves very suddenly semi-confined to the porcelain long-drop for months.

People who have Brainerd Diarrhea experience random, sudden bouts of “explosive diarrhea”, ten to twenty times a day. Symptoms also include cramping, gas, fatigue and vomiting – which can cause some problems as different body orifices compete for use of the toilet bowl… if you’re not sleeping at the time.

Brainerd is a bit of a mystery – the cause has never been confirmed without a doubt, and it doesn’t respond to any antibiotics. There have been various searches conducted to find the cause, but no bacterial, parasitic or viral pathogens have turned up as the culprit so far – but the CDC is still looking. Unfortunately, that also means that there is no way to accurately diagnose Brainerd.

The only solution, at the moment, is to wait it out. It’s a process which can take years – an argument for a comfortable, cushioned crapper if there ever was one.

3. Encephalitis Lethargica

Also known as “Sleepy Sickness”, this one is a sneaky bugger that will hit you before you have time to figure out what it is. It was first discovered in 1917 by Constantin von Economo and Jean-René Cruchet, and attacks the brain of its victims.

It starts out with flu-like symptoms – high fever, sore throat, headache, lethargy, etc. – before it knocks you out for a coma-like sleep as it feasts on your little grey cells.

The original epidemic spread out across the world, affecting nearly five million people – a third of which died. The survivors weren’t much luckier. According to the recordings of von Economo and Cruchet, many of the people were “as insubstantial as ghosts, and as passive as zombies.”. The disease would render them pretty much catatonic. Other recorded symptoms included Parkinson’s-like symptoms, twitchiness or psychosis – one woman went as far as trying to claw her own eyes out.

As of yet, there’s no cure for Encephalitis Lethargica. You’re going to end up one of two ways – Walking Dead, or the Exorcist.

4. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome

CVS typically starts during the ages of 3 and 7, although it has been heard of remaining into adulthood. Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – it causes a person to throw up from six to twelve times an hour. This can go on for months before a nice break that lasts anything from a few days to a few months, before it starts all over again.

Along with the discomfort of continual vomit, victims can also experience heightened sensitivity to light, smell, sound and pressure. Although most people are lucky enough to get a bit of a heads up to run for the bile bucket, some aren’t so fortunate.

No cause for CVS has been found yet, and there are no ways to effectively diagnose it either. For the most part, saline solutions are pumped into victims intravenously – this is to keep patients hydrated and their salt levels balanced. Other medications are showing promise, but nothing has been specifically identified as effective – especially since treatment is very dependent on the person being treated.

Look on the bright side – if you’ve got a chatterbox in the family, this’ll shut them up.

5. Exploding Head Syndrome

EHS has been classified as a sleep associated disorder, and is a kind of auditory hallucination that usually happens when a person is falling asleep or waking up. Usually it involves a person hearing loud imaginary noises; gunshots, explosions, general Christopher Nolan style movie effects – although they don’t last quite as long.

Studies haven’t been able to find a specific age or sex group that’s inclined to suffer from EHS, or conclusive correlate EHS to any other sleep related disorder. Cases go back all the way to 1876, although the name itself was coined by a psychiatrist in 1920 – his patients claimed that the noises made it sound as if their heads wanted to burst open.

People who suffer from EHS also report fear, confusion, sweating and flashes of light as syndromes, with attacks occurring two to four times – in general – before stopping. No need to stop the presses, though – claims of alien abductions being responsible is a complete fabrication.

6. Stiff Person Syndrome

SPS might appear mild to some of the lethal diseases on this list, but it is one of the most debilitating. The cause isn’t certain yet, although research seems to indicate that it has some kind of immunity anomaly to do with GAD antibodies – something related to diabetes.

It starts with spasms, before the abdomen and lumbar muscles starts contracting constantly. It continues to get worse, until the victim’s posture starts changing. Chronic pain and impaired mobility follow as the muscles become tighter and tighter. Although those muscle groups are mainly affected, some patients also experience tightening in facial muscles, hands and feet, and even their eyes.

In the end, patients become completely debilitated and dependent. It can also cause psychological conditions, including increased fear, anxiety, depression and agoraphobia – this makes some researchers believe that SPS can be psychosomatic. There is no sure way to diagnose SPS, and the most promising treatment research is the much debated stem cell research.

There are bad ways to go, but ending up a living statue with no cure anywhere close in sight isn’t something a sane person would wish on their worst enemy.

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