Just when you thought all you had to worry about was the next flu bug, along comes MRSA, a superbug that will give you large, boil-like lesions and perhaps hemorrhagic pneumonia or even ”flesh-eating” disease. And now there’s another superbug said to be three times as deadly as MRSA which seems to target the elderly. If that isn’t bad enough, think how Global Warming is going to serve up diseases you’ve so far only seen on National Geographic TV shows.
The current superbug, MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is raging across North America. Victims include a Miami Dolphin football player who lost a season because of a severe infection and a 30-year-old man who died of necrotizing pneumonia, or lung abscesses. The bug hits athletes – or anyone in close contact from homeless shelters to health spas – because it spreads by physical contact, through open cuts and scrapes, poor hygiene, and sharing personal items such as soap, towels, and clothes.
If the ravages of MRSA sound disturbing, think what a flu pandemic might bring.
Estimates of deaths in a flu epidemic worldwide run from 50 million to one billion. And don’t imagine you’re safe if you get vaccinated; new vaccines against avian flu, H5N1, are based on a 2004 Vietnamese strain, and the bug has certainly mutated by now.
The news could even worse for North Americans and Europeans. Climate change could spread tropical diseases never before seen on those continents.
Dengue fever may be limited to tropical areas today, but you – and certainly your children – in the coming warmer world be going to a doctor with a high fever that might last from 5 to 7 days; intense headache; eye, joint and muscle pain; and a rash on your arms or legs. Symptoms should disappear in a week or two, but if you’ve got Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, your life will be in danger from blood clotting problems causing bleeding and shock. This particular nightmare would begin if a certain species of mosquito infected by biting someone already suffering from Dengue Fever chooses to bite you.
If it’s another species of mosquito which bites you, you could get malaria. You’ll have a fever, and you’ll suffer shaking chills, headache, muscle aches, and tiredness. Oh yes, there may also be nausea, vomiting, and, you guessed it, diarrhea. Malaria can also cause anemia and jaundice, and one type can cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death. There’s no vaccine against malaria, but it can be cured with prescription drugs.
If you manage to avoid Dengue Fever and malaria, you might not avoid cholera. Most cases are mild, but a few can be fatal within hours. Symptoms aren’t a lot of fun; they include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. (If you’ve got a fever and bloody diarrhea, you’ve got dysentery.) In serious cholera cases, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Fluid and salts lost through diarrhea have to be replaced immediately, and antibiotics can also be used.
Cholera is caused by a bacterium spread by people drinking water or food contaminated by sewage containing the feces of an infected person. Since we’ve already seen cases of E-coli contamination, cholera’s not impossible.
And if sewage doesn’t give you cholera, it could give you typhoid fever. You’ll know you’ve got typhoid if you have a sustained fever as high as 39° to 40° C (103° to 104° F), feel weak, are wracked by stomach pains and a headache, and notice you’ve lost your appetite. (Typhoid fever can cause death.)
So if you dodge the latest superbug and survive the expected flu pandemic, our warming planet will bring you, and certainly your children, other diseases.
Welcome to the Brave New World. You’ll have to be brave to live in it.

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