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Viruses and Bacterias: 9 Places Where You're Likely to Contract a Deadly Disease

Updated on October 7, 2016

Deadliest Diseases. Are You at Risk?

Have you ever thought about how many places there are to catch a deadly disease? You might think it wouldn't happen to you because you don't live, work or go to those kind of places. That's what most people think but the fact is, viruses and bacteria, which could potentially kill us, are closer than we think.

It is said the kitchen is the most dangerous place in the house and if you factor in the potential for microbes and other unseen germs it definitely ranks high.

Some of these include E Coli, salmonella, and campylobacter.


Cooks, Chefs, and Restaurant Employees

Mary Mallon worked as a cook in the early 1900s and in her wake left behind at least 3 dead and many more became ill. You may know her better as the name given to her by newspapers of the day. Typhoid Mary spread the typhus bacteria in the food she was preparing for the families she cared for. She was a carrier of the disease, and to continue working as a cook, she changed her name so her true identity wouldn't be discovered by her employers..

She was put into quarantine and kept in isolation for 3 years. She was counseled on correct sanitary procedures, and released to work in the laundry. This didn't pay well and she resumed working as a cook and again began to spread the disease. She was quarantined again for more than 20 years until she died. Now you may think this couldn't happen now, but when you eat out, how confident are you of the sanitary procedures which are in place where you buy your food. This includes, restaurants, drive-thru places, and even friend's homes.

Superbugs at Hospitals

Super-bugs, as they are called are now in many countries and in the hospitals. The MRSA microbes have no known antibiotics to cure them, many eat away at the flesh, leaving large open wounds. According to a study by the National Audit Office in 2000, 9% of patients in UK hospitals contracted an infection whilst in the hospital. That is 100,000 people! The death toll from these infections is 5,000 a year although this isn't just due to MRSA.

It is within a patient's rights to ask what the hospital's rate of MRSA is. Many patients also are encouraged to ask the doctor or the nurse if they have washed their hands before being examined.

Surgical cleanliness
Surgical cleanliness | Source

Contagious Diseases at Museums

Although you might not think of a museum as being a likely place to catch a contagious disease, think again. In the USA, when small pox was sweeping across the country killing those who had no resistance to the disease, families who had had small pox and survived, would mail their small pox infected scabs to relatives in an effort to help them build up their resistance to the killer virus.

Now, in some museums these letters and accompanying scabs are on display. People desperate to protect their kin thought they were helping by sending their contaminated scabs in letters through the post. It isn't just small pox though which can be found at the museum. The fossils of ticks which have been encased in amber still have traces of Lyme disease from 15 million years ago.

Risk of Diseases and Death on Public Transport

If you've been on bus or train and had someone cough or sneeze near you, the urge to cover your nose and mouth discreetly is overwhelming. We all know that it only takes a few airborne water droplets to kick start the virus in the next person. You may shrug that off as, well it just builds up resistance and I have to take public transport. That's okay but what if it is more than the cold virus?

The British nurse Pauline Cafferkey who contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone where she was working, boarded a public airliner to return to the UK. Across three African countries, 11,300 people died from Ebola during a two year epidemic, according to the World Health Organisation. Today, as I am writing this, Ms. Cafferkey has returned to the Glasgow hospital under a police escort for further investigation.

It isn't just in the air that you could come into contact with a potentially deadly substance. In 1995 in the subways of Tokyo, packets of the nerve agent sarin were released by a members of a Japanese cult movement called Aum Shirikyo. They placed the liquid in plastic bags, wrapped it in newspapers and then once on the subway trains, punctured them with the sharpened points of umbrellas and made their exit. This resulted in over 5,000 people being injured and a dozen dying.


Potential Diseases at Schools

When a child starts school, they come down with everything that is going around, be it head lice, the flu or chicken pox. Now, with the concerns associated with vaccinations, some parents opt not to inoculate their children. Measles can kill as it can cause swelling in the brain. It is estimated by the Center for Disease Control, that worldwide, 17 deaths an hour occur from measles.

Hantavirus and Camping.

Think back to 2012 when the Hantavirus hit, killing those unsuspecting people who went to enjoy the beautiful surroundings in California's most famous national park, Yosemite.

Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) affects the lungs and heart.

It is spread by inhaling the excretions of deer mice. Most at risk are those who clean areas where mice have been, or those who sleep on the ground or near the floor such as people who camp.

Hantavirus and camping
Hantavirus and camping | Source

Diseases Passed by Mothers

It's true the person who has carried you for 9 months could also pass on deadly bacterias and diseases. It is now common knowledge a pregnant woman shouldn't smoke, drink alcohol, or take drugs which could potentially harm the baby.

During the pregnancy a mother can pass toxoplasmosis to the fetus. This comes from eating under cooked meat such as pork in which a parasite could be found. If the home has a cat, this parasite can also be found in cat feces and therefore pregnant women should avoid cleaning the litter tray during the this time. This can cause a stillborn birth or a miscarriage. Other disease which can occur during pregnancy are hepatitis B, and syphilis.

Anthrax in Letters
Anthrax in Letters | Source

Risks In The Mail

In 2001 shortly after the 9/11 bombings, 5 people died and 17 were injured when opening envelopes which contained anthrax. When inhaled, these deadly spores begin to multiply and infect the body of the victims. The letters were intended for journalists and congressmen, however some of the victims were the staff who opened the mail.

Grocery Store dangers

Although stores have procedures in place to combat the spread of bacteria, sometimes these aren't followed or unforeseen things occur. For example many grocery stores have automatic sprays above the fresh fruit and vegetables. This is the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria which leads to Legionnaire's disease. The shopping carts can also be rife with germs as parents put the children into the cart instead of the seat. The soles of their shoes can transfer whatever they have walked in. Most good grocery stores, will disinfect counters and machines frequently and record this information to prove they have shown due diligence.

Legionnaires Bacteria in Produce Section
Legionnaires Bacteria in Produce Section | Source

Leading Cause of Death in the USA

If all of this makes you want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head in fear, it is worth pointing out that the biggest risk to the health of the western world is mostly preventable.

In the US, heart disease is the most common cause of death followed by cancer according to the Center for Disease Control.

Although it is worth taking note of where fatal diseases may occur, the best thing one can do is exercise, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress.


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    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 11 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Dianna,

      Yes, you're right germs are everywhere. However since we moved to Brazil, most of our time is spent outdoors. We always have the windows open and I think this is one thing which has helped to keep us healthy.

      I have a Swiss friend here who is an ex Red Cross nurse who has worked in so many war torn and desperate places. She is filled with information about staying healthy.

      Thanks for reading today.

    • profile image

      teaches12345 11 months ago

      Germs are everywhere! I use the hand sanitizer machine in the hospitals before and after visiting for this reason. Stay healthy, my friend.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 11 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bill,

      I have always thought the same about hospitals. Perhaps everyone should put on a mask before entering, both for the patients sake and their own.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 11 months ago from The Caribbean

      I take this information as a serious warning to be careful. Thanks for outlining the various ways we can contract these deadly diseases. Sometimes, the effect is so sudden; prevention is always more important than cure.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 11 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Bob,

      It sounds like a good plan, if only we could all do that. Have a great weekend.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 11 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Great article. Truth is sometimes scarier than fiction. Is nowhere safe? I think we all need to live in bubbles.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 11 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Well now you've got me afraid to leave my home. LOL

      Seriously, I've been visiting a friend in the hospital for the past month, and that place terrifies me. Oodles of germs floating around that place. I don't relax until I walk out the doors at the end of the visit.

      Anyway, it's always good to read an article by you, Mary. I wish you a fantastic Thursday.

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 11 months ago from UK and Mexico

      Interesting article, Mary: I'm staying in bed for the rest of my life (with three close friends!)


      Bob x