LOOK: 8 Strangest Epidemics

Epidemics are certainly not something anyone looks forward to. When such a disease hits a neighborhood or a large area, a good number of people get affected.

Some good examples are the Norovirus epidemics and Cholera breakouts. These are the expected and normal epidemics. Then there are strange epidemics, where something happens unexpectedly, and it affects a substantial number of people.

Doctors are called, but they can neither diagnose what is wrong nor explain why it is affecting so many people. Such strange epidemics happen all over the world each year and leave many wondering why things happen that no one can explain.

Take a look at these 8 strange epidemics.

1. Encephalitis Lethargica aka Sleepy Sickness Epidemic 1915-1926

Beginning as early as 1916, and continuing well into the 1920s, an unusual and disturbing illness devastated millions of people throughout the world. It arrived in the shadow of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic— which killed an estimated fifty million people worldwide— so it has been largely overlooked by history despite the fact that it took the lives of over a million people, and left countless others frozen inside unresponsive bodies.

Encephalitis Lethargica aka Sleepy Sickness Epidemic 1915-1926

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2. Weird Sleeping Sickness Epidemic in Kazakhstan

The mystery illness was first officially recorded in the spring of 2013 and has affected about a fourth of the village’s population with some experiencing repeat attacks.

Weird Sleeping Sickness Epidemic in Kazakhstan

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3. The mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518.

In 1518, one of the strangest epidemics in recorded history struck the city of Strasbourg. Hundreds of people were seized by an irresistible urge to dance, hop and leap into the air. In houses, halls and public spaces, as fear paralyzed the city and the members of the elite despaired, the dancing continued with mindless intensity. Seldom pausing to eat, drink or rest, many of them danced for days or even weeks. And before long, the chronicles agree, dozens were dying from exhaustion.
The mysterious dancing epidemic of 1518.

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4. The June Bug Epidemic

The June bug epidemic serves as a classic example of hysterical contagion. In 1962 a mysterious disease broke out in a dressmaking department of a US textile factory. The symptoms included numbness, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Word of a bug in the factory that would bite its victims and cause them to develop the above symptoms quickly spread.

Soon sixty two employees developed this mysterious illness, some of whom were hospitalized. The news media reported on the case. After research by company physicians and experts from the US Public Health Service Communicable Disease Center, it was concluded that the case was one of mass hysteria.

While the researchers believed some workers were bitten by the bug, anxiety was probably the cause of the symptoms. No evidence was ever found for a bug which could cause the above flu-like symptoms, nor did all workers demonstrate bites.

The June Bug Epidemic

Image source,  Wiki

5. The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic

Much less serious than the Dancing Plague was the Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962. On January 30th, three girls at a boarding school in Kashasha, Tanzania began laughing. The laughter spread like wildfire throughout the school, affecting nearly 60% of the students. Symptoms of those affected lasted from a few hours to 16 days. The behavior was so disruptive, the school was forced to close down.

The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemicsource

6. Nodding Syndrome

CDC has responded to requests for assistance from the Ministries of Health in Uganda and South Sudan to help investigate a mysterious disease affecting children, commonly referred to as Nodding syndrome. Nodding syndrome is an unexplained neurologic condition characterized by episodes of repetitive dropping forward of the head, often accompanied by other seizure-like activity, such as convulsions or staring spells. The condition predominantly affects children aged 5–15 years and has been reported in South Sudan from the states of Western and Central Equatoria and in Northern Uganda and southern Tanzania.

Nodding SyndromeImage source

7. Morgellons: A hidden epidemic or mass hysteria?

It all started in August 2007, on a family holiday in New England. Paul had been watching Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix with his wife and two sons, and he had started to itch. His legs, his arms, his torso – it was everywhere. It must be fleas in the seat, he decided.

Morgellons: A hidden epidemic or mass hysteria?

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Then, in 2008, his wife was soothing his back with surgical spirit when the cotton swab she was using gathered a curious blue-black haze from his skin. Paul went out, bought a £40 microscope and examined the cotton. What were those curling, coloured fibres? He Googled the words: “Fibres. Itch. Sting. Skin.” And there was his answer. It must be: all the symptoms fitted. He had a new disease called Morgellons.