We’ve decided to start a series of top ten lists, and in this first one, we’re covering the last ten years of fads relating to diseases. We’ve decided to only go back about ten years, because there are some really interesting ones that have been spreading. Some of the items on the list might be older than that, but the fad had a repeat in popularity within the time frame allowed.
This list is by no means meant to be an insult to any victims of these diseases, viruses or other medical related situations. It’s meant more as a reminder of things that the public has feared or been led to believe (as will be seen in the #1 fad). This list is also my opinion, and does not reflect he opinions of ProCPR, and should not be viewed as such.
#10: Blaster – Not necessarily a human affecting virus, this is a computer worm that affected Windows computers. It caused a few side effects, and the guy that wrote it received a prison sentence. (Wikipedia)
#9: Melissa – This is another computer virus. Not written with the intent of causing harm, it overflowed servers and caused Microsoft, Intel and more to shut down their E-mail gateways. Melissa spread itself via e-mail generated by scanning your address books and compiling e-mails to send from those lists. (Wikipedia)
#8: ILOVEYOU – This virus was released in the Philippines on May 4, 2001, and over the course of the next twenty-four hours spread around the world and infected ten percent of the computers connected to the internet. This worm would duplicate itself over important files, and then spread itself through your contact list. (Wikipedia)
#7: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy – More commonly known as Mad Cow Disease, this is known to cause death amongt the cow populations, and has been pretty well spoofed time and again since it hit the news. Scientists, however, do not believe that there is much harm that it can actually do to humans, as the percentage of people being infected is very small, statistically. Order Mad Cow (Wikipedia)
#6: Avian Flu (H5N1) – Commonly called Bird Flu, this one is still a major threat to the world’s populations. As it spreads and mutates, it has become more potent, with a potential to wipe out populations. Vaccinations have been developed, and work is being done continuously to fight this pandemic. Some vaccinations are not currently available to the general public, at the time of this writing. (Wikipedia)
#5: West Nile Virus – This one is particularly frightening, as it can be transferred by something as small as a mosquito. There is currently no vaccine available, and it has spread throughout most of the continental United States. (Wikipedia)
#4: SARS – Severe acute respiratory syndrome is a respiratory disease that has killed nearly 10% of all those who have contracted the virus. It’s not known how quickly SARS is still spreading. Boston University is about to open up a new research facility that will contain Ebola, SARS and plague, angering neighbors to the facility. (Bloomberg) (Wikipedia)
#3: Global Warming – This is a trend that is causing people to go green. Our company is definitely a green company, saving you the trip to a training center for something you can now do from the comfort of your own home. Anyway, writer Michael Crichton’s book State of Fear has this to say:
… global warming is the theory that increased levels of carbon dioxide and certain other gases are causing an increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere because of the so-called – greenhouse effect.” (p. 81, italics in the original)
One article that I found about it, had this to say as well:
The second definition is correct. “Global warming” really is only a theory, not a fact, and the words Crichton chose to italicize are all key terms in the scientific debate over whether the theory is correct or not.
That’s not to say that going green is a bad thing, and that the WWF is incorrect. Everything that we’re finally doing as a country is wonderful. And there’s more that must be done, like electric cars and regulation of polution world-wide. However, it is something that should be worked on, not because it could be the cause of “Global warming,” rather because it is the right thing to do. (Michael Crichton is Right!)
#2: Human papillomavirus – This is one fad that has me fed up. The simple fact that people didn’t generally know about HPV until a vaccination was slightly ready is cause for more concern. Just a few years ago, if you asked someone, anyone, what the number one STD in the world is, you’d get a multitude of answers. The one you were least likely to hear, though, is HPV. A few years ago, statistics told us that 65% of sexually active people had some form of HPV. That statistic has not gone down since then. It’s gone up. And it is not possible to stop it with a condom, regardless of what some “experts” claim. They even said this, regarding the inability of condoms to do what the labels claimed they could:
[…] we don’t want to “create an epidemic of panic, fear, and anxiety in adolescents and young adults who are embarking on their sexual careers.” One leader in the sex ed movement tried to put an optimistic spin on the issue by saying, “I don’t think we, in any way, want to do anything that will frighten people from using condoms. . . . The bottom-line message always needs to be that most STDs are treatable.”
#1: Y2K – Also known as the Millennium Bug, and a multitude of other names. This is the problem that faced computers, because those working on them had expected us to change what they didn’t want to prepare for in the 1960s. What might have cost them only some time to program the computers for more than the two digits at the end of the year part of a date, wound up costing a grand total of about 300,000,000 US dollars. That’s not to mention the fears that went along with this bug. Prisoners would be let out early (sure, because the police officers wouldn’t notice something was wrong), Hospitals would discharge patients early (again, because doctors and nurses can’t read computer screens correctly, right?), and many more problems would occur, all because the computer “thinks it’s 100 years ago.” Everything was supposedly going back to 1900. Well, some things did happen, but nothing as large a scale as was feared. The lights stayed on, the prisons were secure and the hospitals didn’t force patients to leave.
Honorable Mention: Morgellons – This is a disease that was named in 2002. It may or may not be real. One sociologist believes that this disease has been spread via the internet, as people have discovered others with common symptoms. However, research has not been conclusive, as of this time, on this disease. However, according to the research foundation’s website:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in conjunction with Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California Division of Research held a national media telebriefing on January 16, 2008 announcing government efforts to investigate the cause of this illness.
This disease was, unfortunately, a late addition to this blog post, and that is why I was originally not very detailed. If you would like more information about Morgellons, you can find it at the OSU Center for Health Sciences website. Below is what that one sociologist said about Morgellons:
Robert Bartholomew, a sociologist who has studied the Morgellons phenomenon, states that the “World Wide Web has become the incubator for mass delusion and it (Morgellons) seems to be a socially transmitted disease over the Internet.” According to this hypothesis, patients with delusions of parasitosis and other psychological disorders become convinced they have “Morgellons” after reading internet accounts of others with similar symptoms. (Wikipedia)
Well, there you have it. The top 10 global epidemics of the last 10 years. We’re going to have more soon, with at least one every week or so. Any ideas for future top 10 lists? Feel free to comment below!
. Audio Transcript, “Scientific Evidence on Condom Effectiveness and STD Prevention,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (12-13 June 2000).
. Tamara Kerinin, as quoted by Cheryl Wetzstein, “Agencies Rapped for Shirking HPV Law,” The Washington Times (23 December 2003).