Blue-skinned people? Vampire Syndrome? When we
were kids, we couldn't hear enough about illnesses, horrid medical
conditions or weird diseases. Not much has changed since then. When we
hear about an outbreak of a flesh-eating bacteria or some other rare
sickness, we're fascinated. But now we're also terrified. Some rare
diseases are very real and if you catch them, you're a goner. Here's a
list with 10 of the most rare diseases out there.
1. Elephantiasis: grossly enlarged members
filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, is best known from dramatic
photos of people with grossly enlarged or swollen arms and legs.
The disease is caused by parasitic worms, including Wuchereria
bancrofti, Brugia malayi, and B. timori, all transmitted by mosquitoes.
Lymphatic filariasis currently affects 120 million people worldwide, and
40 million of these people are seriously diseased. When an infected
female mosquito bites a person, she may inject the worm larvae, called
microfilariae, into the blood. The microfilariae reproduce and spread
throughout the bloodstream, where they can live for many years. Often
disease symptoms do not appear until years after infection. As the
parasites accumulate in the blood vessels, they can restrict circulation
and cause fluid to build up in surrounding tissues. The most common,
visible signs of infection are excessively enlarged arms, legs,
genitalia, and breasts.