Locusts, drought, and the Black Death have wreaked havoc over humans throughout history. While the world’s population is now more focused on conservation, vaccinations, and modern forms of overpopulation prevention, other plagues of modern times are slowly taking over the world. While citizens are able to visualize the harsh effects of various health conditions and cultural practices that are prevalent across the globe, individuals often undermine the effects of these social issues.
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The Plague of HIV/AIDS
Despite the ill-effects of infamous historical plagues, HIV/AIDS is rapidly pursuing past plagues in terms of total numerical value and percentages of humans slain by this disease. What was once viewed as a remote disease is now spreading across the world, mainly as a result of drug use and unsafe sex. While the spread of HIV/AIDS is migrating into younger populations, more women are also contracting it and passing this disease on to their infants. To this day, over 34 million people worldwide are living with HIV/AIDS.
The Plague of Obesity
For years, individuals have indulged in fast food and junk food while maintaining a healthy weight. In today’s society, this trend combined with decreased physical activity and the growing popularity of artificial ingredients has led to a global obesity epidemic. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that one in three adults within the world population are overweight and one in ten are obese. The factor that makes this issue a plague is its alarming spread into the youth population. Estimates suggest that approximately 20 million children worldwide under the age of five are obese.
The Plague of Antibiotic Resistance
Historically, the world’s population has fallen victim to numerous plagues involving fast-spreading infections that are causes by bacteria. Though we once viewed such plagues to be a thing of the past, many forms of bacteria are now becoming resistant to vaccines and antibiotics that have aided in controlling outbreaks for decades. New “superbugs” that have been created through a mutated gene have introduced new antibiotic-resistant bacteria into populations across India and Pakistan. Quick-spreading as they are, these “superbugs” have embarked on a global rampage of the world population.
The Plague of Mental Illness
Although most plagues are present in the form of health condition or environmental factors, another plague that is making it’s way into current day society is the growth of mental illness. Mental illness rates have doubled since 1987 and increased six-fold since 1955. At these alarming rates, many wonder what is the cause of this rapid rise. While some claim that mental illness has always been present yet undiagnosed, others claim that issues with food supply, medications, even leading an unhealthy lifestyle contributes to mental illness statistics.
The Plague of Avian Influenza
An additional plague that has been making news for years does not occur in human directly but can be passed onto humans through livestock. Evolving strands of avian influenza have been making news for years, but not a new strand is making it’s way into global food sources. Discovered in 2004 in Thailand, H5N1 has spread throughout countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia. Traveling across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Pacific, H5N1 has been known to produce a high rate of mortality, especially in those ages ten to nineteen.
Though news of the 5 Worst Plagues of Modern Times may be scary, the key to beating these atrocities is education and prevention. Societal leaders are better equipped to manage fast-spreading plagues and protect citizens in current-day society.
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Cindy Cannon is a public health administrator and guest author at MPHOnline.org, a site with guides to top-rated online masters in public health programs.