virus

Smallpox

Smallpox

April 22nd – Smallpox is a deadly disease caused by the variola virus. From ancient Egypt and Greece, to China and the Americas, it has killed countless millions for centuries. Smallpox arrived in the New World with Columbus and Cortes, and it devastated Native American populations who had no immunities to the virus. The disease …

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Rotavirus

Rotavirus

April 18th – Rotavirus (or “wheel” virus in Latin, after its microscopic appearance) is one of the most common viral infections among young children. Indeed, nearly all children are thought to have had the disease at least once by the time they are 5 years old. Its signature symptom is severe diarrhea, often accompanied by …

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rubella

Rubella

March 21st – A childhood encounter with “little red” (or “rubella” in Latin) was historically considered a rite of passage. Usually symptoms were limited to little red rashes on the face, arms, and torso, often accompanied by joint pains, headaches and fevers, generally lasting no more than three days. In fact, rubella is sometimes referred …

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Swine Flu

Swine Flu

March 22nd – Swine flu is an influenza virus that usually affects pigs. However, just as the common, seasonal flu that affects humans is constantly mutating (as our immune systems and vaccines compromise weaker strains), swine flu is always trying to improve itself so that it can become more virulent, spread faster – and even …

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Rabies

Rabies

March 14th – In its latter stages, rabies causes fever, insomnia, hallucinations, foaming at the mouth, and extreme aggression. Rabies is present in the saliva of infected animals, and biting is the primary means of transmission, which is one reason mad dogs have been a source of terror since ancient times. (The other reason is …

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Norovirus

Norovirus

March 9th – Norovirus is the most common cause of non-bacterial acute gastroenteritis, or stomach flu. While it can be found in a variety of food products (and is often found on leafy greens and fresh fruits), it is particularly fond of shellfish. In fact, Norovirus is the signature causative agent of bad clams or …

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Meningitis

Meningitis

March 7th – Meningitis is technically an inflammation of the meninges, or the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be extremely dangerous. There are a number of viral and bacterial causes of meningitis, but Neisseria meningitidis is the most common cause of the more serious bacterial meningitis in children (who are most …

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