The Top 10 Most Talked-About Diseases Of The Decade

The ’00s have been full of disease scares. Take the official disease of 2009, swine flu, which in addition to infecting the Backstreet Boys and Rupert Grint, led to canceled proms and Heidi and Spencer’s honeymoon being ruined. But seriously, there’s nothing funny about the almost 12,000 deaths from swine flu this year. Or about diseases in general—there is nothing worse than when your body betrays you. Some diseases are obviously more serious than others; here are the ones that had a major impact on the decade.

  1. SARS. The latest outbreak started in China and went down between 2002 and 2003. It caused 8,096 cases and 744 deaths worldwide, but has been contained since 2006. The only good thing to come from SARS was that awesome designer face mask. [Google Health]
  2. Foot-and-Mouth Disease. This sounds like what happens when you realize your boyfriend heard you talking about how hot his little brother is, but it’s really a viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals … and hedgehogs and elephants. It’s why, when you go through immigration in Britain, they ask you if you’ve been to a farm. There was a huge outbreak in 2001 and, unfortunately, many animals were slaughtered and, not so unfortunately, some sporting events were canceled on the Isle of Man. [Guardian]
  3. Heart Disease. It’s actually an umbrella term for a bunch of ways your heart might try to kill you, which, as opposed to what most 16-year-old girls believe, does not include heartbreak. As of 2007, it’s the leading cause of death in the United States, England, Canada, and Whales. I don’t know what the rest of the world is doing right, but someone should probably look into that. [WebMD]
  4. AIDS. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome has become a pandemic. As of 2007, about 33.2 million people worldwide are living with the disease and it’s killed 2.1 million people, over three-fourths of those deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa. Of the approximate 40,000 yearly infections of HIV in the United States, half of those people are under 25 years old. [Planned Parenthood]
  5. Anthrax. It’s an acute disease caused by the easily transmittable spores called Bacillus Anthracis. Those suckers can be dormant for centuries until they’re inhaled, ingested, or come in contact with an open wound … then they go nuts and multiply like bunnies. There were 68 people harmed by the 2001 anthrax attacks and five deaths. For the record, it’s seriously uncool to send letters with anthrax spores in them to the liberal media or democratic U.S. senators. Not that you should send it to other people either. Just sayin’. [JAOA]
  6. HPV. Those “one less” commercials really helped raise Human Papilloma Virus awareness and promoted the Gardasil vaccine. The low-risk version causes genital warts while the high-risk style causes cancer. More than three-fourths of women and half of men have had some form of HPV, which often goes away on its own within 8-13 months. The problem is, the vaccine is ghastly expensive at $360 for three shots and health insurance companies are being huge jerks about it ’cause they hate women. Or something like that. [Planned Parenthood]
  7. Bird Flu. A couple years ago, scientists gave us the impression that the newest strain of avian-influenza, H5N1, was probably going to kill us all. Turns out, it mostly just killed a helluva lot of birds and 262 humans. [World Health Organization]
  8. Cancer. I’ve always assumed I would get cancer—the question is which one? My mom had breast cancer, my dad had prostate cancer, a couple aunts had thyroid cancer, my grandpa had colon cancer, and my other grandfather had skin cancer. It’s a scary, scary world. In 2007, about 13 percent of all deaths (7.9 million) were cancer-related, with lung, stomach, liver, colon, and breast cancer causing the most. Tobacco is the biggest risk factor for cancer, so if you’re still a smoker, give it up — not even the cool kids are doing it anymore. [World Health Organization]
  9. Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s the most common form of dementia—it’s incurable, degenerative, and terminal. Usually, it affects people over the age of 65 and common symptoms include confusion, irritability, mood swings, long-term memory loss, and the loss of senses in general. It sucks. In September, there were at least 35 million cases worldwide and by 2050, it’s thought to reach 107 million people, assuming we aren’t all killed in 2012. Ack! [Med Page Today]