Many believed they were no match for modern medicine, but cases of historic diseases like scarlet fever and tuberculosis are now skyrocketing.
The number of people needing to be treated in hospital for malnutrition, scurvy and diphtheria has risen by 23% in one NHS area to a five-year high.
While social distancing measures during the pandemic saw rates of some infectious diseases drop, gout has increased.
Experts say the condition, which affected Henry VIII and causes sudden, severe joint pain, has increased as we scoff more takeaways during lockdowns.
Meanwhile, university students have been warned to be up-to-date on vaccinations, particularly against meningitis and measles, mumps and rubella before returning to the halls in September.
Here we take a look at yesterday’s diseases with the intention of returning to them.
THIS so-called “king’s disease” tends to affect those who consume rich, fatty foods and alcohol, such as Henry VIII.
A type of arthritis, sufferers are affected by sudden, severe joint pain that is often hot and swollen.
Visit your GP and make sure you maintain “a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and reduce your alcohol intake” to reduce your chances of developing gout, says Dr Rachel.
Stylist Dennie Smith, 60, from Croydon, who runs the Vintage 62 salon, was diagnosed with gout in 2017.
She says: “I have had four children on gas and air alone, the pain of gout is worse than childbirth.
“My GP was really puzzled as to why I got it. I’m a size 10, walk everywhere, eat healthy and rarely drink. He put it down to menopause.
“I feel sorry for anyone who suffers. It’s the most unimaginable pain.”
Cases of tuberculosis, which can be fatal, have risen by seven per cent in the past year, with an outbreak in Wales in June.
The bacterial infection, which mainly affects the lungs, is spread through water droplets from coughing, but can usually be treated with antibiotics.
Warning signs include coughing up phlegm and sometimes blood, weight loss, night sweats, high temperature, fatigue, loss of appetite and a swollen neck.
NHS GP Dr Rachel Ward says there has been a “marked increase in scarlet fever cases post-Covid”, partly due to children mingling more than they did during lockdowns.
He said: “Although scarlet fever can be easily treated with antibiotics, if left untreated it can lead to complications.
“Symptoms are fever, sore throat, a rash that can peel the skin (usually on the hands and feet), red discoloration of the cheeks and a ‘strawberry tongue’ appearance.”
CATCHING polio is rare, but it can be fatal.
It was almost eradicated in Britain, but there has been a recent discovery of poliovirus in sewage in north and east London.
“A polio booster is advised for all children aged one to nine in all London boroughs, even if you are up to date with vaccinations,” says Dr Rachel.
It is transmitted by contact with the poo of an infected person, the symptoms are similar to the flu, with high temperature, fatigue and muscle aches.
In rare cases, paralysis can occur, and if this affects the muscles used for breathing, it can be life-threatening.
“We are seeing an increase in childhood obesity and poor diet leading to malnutrition,” says Dr Rachel.
Scurvy (not just a disease of pirates and sailors) and rickets are back on GPs’ radars.
Scurvy causes exhaustion, bruising, joint pain and bleeding gums, and affects when a person doesn’t get enough vitamin C, while rickets affects bone development in children and is usually the result of a vitamin D or calcium deficiency .
Dr Rachel says: “It’s very difficult to put fresh, healthy food on the table with the cost of living rising, but there are ways to get healthy food cheaply or for free, such as pantries and community fridges.
“Try the Olio and Too Good To Go app to access surplus or unsold food from stores.”
Mumps and measles
THE MMR jab is for measles, mumps and rubella, which most of us got vaccinated against in childhood, but check your child’s record and yours.
Dr Rachel says: “During Covid we have seen a drop in the number of children getting their MMR vaccine.
“There are concerns that this will lead to an increase in these potentially fatal diseases.
“Even if you didn’t accept an invitation the first time, you can vaccinate your child at your GP.”
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