Catherine the Great is a well-known historical figure, but there’s so much more to learn about this Russian empress than what we see on the surface. One of the more compelling facts is that she sparked an interest in inoculation against viruses like smallpox.
Babesiosis is an infectious tick-borne disease that comes from protozoa, which are microorganisms. There are over 100 species of Babesia, common in animals like deer, mice, horses, cats, and dogs. Only two strains of Babesia are known to infect humans. Recently, cases of babesiosis have more than doubled in some Northeastern states between 2011 and 2019. Many people who develop babesiosis are asymptomatic, while others experience flu-like symptoms (chills, sweats, and muscle aches). People with compromised immune systems or other risk factors are at risk of having severe or fatal cases. The disease was rare for decades in the United States but is now endemic in 10 states in the Northeast and the Midwest. Experts are trying to determine why cases are climbing.
Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of getting gonorrhea. Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that if left untreated can lead to serious and permanent health issues, including infertility. About 82.4 million people were newly infected with gonorrhea in 2020 alone. Contracting gonorrhea can have unpleasant symptoms, but it can be treated and even cured with antibiotics. However, with the growing number of cases, gonorrhea is becoming antibiotic-resistant. A vaccine specifically for gonorrhea doesn’t exist yet. But, recent studies suggest a side effect of meningitis vaccines guarding against gonorrhea.
Mosquitoes can be more than just a nuisance, as some can carry parasites and viruses like West Nile and dengue fever. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mosquito-borne diseases cause around 725,000 deaths every year. Fortunately, there may be a solution to preventing these diseases altogether. Entomologist Naoki Yamanaka suggests chemically halting the maturation of mosquitoes. By preventing them from developing and mating, they won’t be able to spread viruses among humans. It’s an exciting possibility for improving public health.
The marvels of modern-day medicine continue to grow as our capacity to create new technology and understand the human body marches forward. But despite this, some creative remedies have withstood the test of time because of their efficacy and simplicity. Some are used in tandem with other treatments, while some are even considered to be the go-to treatment for specific ailments.