From Polio to the Plague, 5 Historical Scourges That Still Exist

Climate change, declines in vaccinations and other factors continue to make people sick worldwide
bubonic plague Photo: Everett Historical/Shutterstock
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Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, was diagnosed with Polio in 1921.
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Why deadly disease still haunt us

Throughout the world, once-devastating diseases have made a troubling comeback. Some, such as mumps and measles, have emerged in kids who haven’t been vaccinated. Polio continues to plague poor countries where vaccines are hard to obtain. And some tropical diseases, such as Chikungunya, Chagas disease and dengue fever, have made inroads into this country due to climate change and global travel.

“New risks are cropping up that we didn’t anticipate,” says Mike Eichberg, executive director of the Henry Wheeler Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases.

What’s more, the children of this generation “have not seen these diseases. They never grew up with them,” says Paul Offit, MD, a professor of pediatrics in the division of infectious disease at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. As a result, they’re no longer feared — but they should be.

Here are some scourges that are still with us, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).