While measles is making an unwanted comeback in the United States, the United Kingdom is dealing with their own reemergence of Dickensian diseases like scarlet fever, whooping cough, and gout.
Data from the UK National Health Service shows a 52% increase in four key “Victorian diseases” since 2010/2011 – many of which were assumed to have disappeared along with chamber pots. The rise of sanitation, vaccinations, and modern science seemed to have these diseases on the run, but the recent data shows that they’re not going down without a fight.
Cases of scarlet fever have increased by 208% in the past decade, going from 429 cases in 2010/11 to 1321 cases in 2017/2018. The disease was the leading cause of death in children in the early 20th century and presents with a sore throat, fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, and a pink-red rash.
A vaccine nearly wiped out whooping cough in the 1950s but hospital admissions are up 59%, and the instances of people experiencing gout are up 38% – almost 2000 more cases in 2017/2018 than there were 10 years before. Gout is associated with a poor diet, heavy drinking, an a general lack of concern over one’s health.
Life expectancy is stalling in the UK, too, and hospital admissions due to malnutrition are up 54%. Infant mortality rates are also on the rise, and as with everything else, the poorer people are suffering the most.
The culprit? Well, the data suggests large cuts to healthcare, social services, and other public services could be to blame. That said, the study was commissioned by a political party that is against the austerity programs, which should be taken into consideration.
The data is solid and from independent sources, however, so the truth can’t be denied – people in the UK are sicker than ever, dying younger than they were ten years ago, and generally struggling to stay well as people in Western Europe face none of the same challenges (in general).
I don’t know about you, but I hope to avoid all of these diseases in the modern world. All I’ve got is a vaccination and a prayer.