Deadliest Tropical Diseases Quiz

Nathan Chandler

How does Dengue fever most commonly spread?

Mosquitoes are a very common carrier of tropical diseases, and Dengue fever is no exception. The little flying critters infect perhaps half a billion people each year.

Sadly, Dengue fever is very common. About how many people does it kill annually?

Many millions are infected each year, but only about 20,000 die from the fever. Symptoms typically set in a few days after infection.

What's one of the common and identifiable symptoms of Dengue fever?

Many people develop a skin rash in conjunction with Dengue fever. The rash is often accompanied by a high fever.

Dengue fever began spreading around the world following which event?

World War II caused major changes to many tropical environments and featured high-speed travel between previously isolated areas. These factors helped Dengue spread farther and faster than before.

Yellow fever causes what part of the human body to turn a yellowish color?

In a minority of infected people, the virus causes a yellowish hue to appear in the skin. It's a creepy and disheartening symptom for the afflicted person.

Where do most cases of yellow fever occur?

Almost all modern-day cases of yellow fever occur in tropical areas of Africa. It's spread, of course, by infected mosquitoes.

About how many people infected with yellow fever enter the secondary "toxic" phase of the disease?

Yellow fever features an initial stage with mild symptoms, and then people tend to get better. But about 15 percent of patients move on to a secondary stage in which the truly scary symptoms begin.

Of those who enter the toxic stage of yellow fever, how many survive?

The toxic phase is indeed very toxic. Only about half of those who suffer this secondary stage will survive the ordeal.

Ebola is one of the most feared tropical diseases. What causes it?

Ebola is caused by a number of different Ebola viruses. It was first identified in 1976.

On average, what percentage of patients infected with Ebola wind up dying?

It depends on the specific Ebola virus; some are deadlier than others. But on average, if you're infected you have a coin flip's chance of survival.

Which creatures are most likely the "reservoir" host that carries the Ebola virus?

Most current research points to bats as hosts who carry Ebola viruses. Because the disease occurs sporadically, scientists still aren't sure how it is spread from bats to humans.

If men survive Ebola, the virus may linger in their semen for how long?

You can be a carrier even if you survive Ebola. Active traces of the virus have been found in the semen (and in women, breast milk) up to three months after the initial infection subsides. That means the disease can still be spread.

Which country was stricken by an Ebola outbreak in 2014?

In 2014, the world's health organizations freaked out en masse when an Ebola outbreak ravaged Guinea. Tens of thousands of people were infected and more than 11,000 died.

Which disease is often caused by drinking contaminated drinking water?

Cholera is frequently spread through the drinking of contaminated water. It's a bacterial infection that can have profound effects on the patient.

What's one of the most common signs of a cholera infection?

Horrible, gut-wrenching diarrhea is the trademark sign that you're infected with cholera. The symptoms may begin just hours after infection.

Cholera plagues all sorts of creatures, not just humans.

Humans are the only creatures susceptible to the ravages of cholera. Those in areas stricken by natural disaster or poverty (or both) are most likely to suffer the bacteria's wrath.

Cholera infects which part of the body?

The bacterium surges through the small intestine, wreaking havoc on digestive processes. It's the reason cholera is known for such terrible diarrhea.

Mefloquine is a drug sometimes used to treat which disease?

Mefloquine is sometimes used to prevent and treat malarial infections. It has potentially terrible side effects, ranging from hallucinations to depression to suicidal thoughts.

If you manage to survive yellow fever, you'll develop immunity to the disease for the rest of your life.

If there's one good thing about surviving yellow fever, it's that you'll never have to deal with it again. Survivors are immune.

On average, cholera kills about which percentage of patients?

Many millions of people are infected each year, and about 5 percent or so die. That percentage is significantly higher in areas where medical treatment is more primitive.

If someone is infected with Ebola, how much time do they have before they die?

Some patients die in less than a week. Other languish in misery for two weeks. Survivors often report physical pain that lingers long after the infection is gone.

There is an effective vaccine that prevents malaria.

Many researchers around the world are working on a vaccine. But at present, there's no truly effective vaccine against this deadly disease.

With severe cases of malaria, it may take how long for people to die?

The worst cases of malaria can kill infected people in a matter of hours. Those who receive treatment and survive can typically expect a full recovery.

What is "Roman fever"?

During the days of the Roman empire, tropical outposts often suffered from the scourge of "Roman fever" or malaria. Some historians think the disease may have contributed to the fall of the empire.

Once a person dies from Ebola, their bodies are no longer infectious.

With Ebola, even corpses are infectious. Bodies must be buried or cremated immediately to prevent further spread of the disease.

How is Chagas disease spread?

A bug, called the "kissing bug," spreads Chagas disease, mostly in tropical areas. The bugs pass along a protozoan that winds up causing major health problems in some humans.

Chagas disease can remain dormant in the human body for how long?

Remember that cute kissing bug you saw three decades ago? No? Well, you now have a potentially deadly disease because of it. Chagas can hide in the body for 30 years before causing real harm.

After hiding in the body, how does Chagas disease kill people?

Some lucky people never develop any symptoms from Chagas. Others suffer unseen damage to their hearts … and then they suddenly drop dead.

Many Americans are infected with Chagas disease.

Many Americans, particularly those in warmer regions, are unknowingly infected with Chagas disease. Some learn of the infection when they go to donate blood.

Kissing bugs have always been in the United States.

Kissing bugs are alarmingly common in the Southern areas of the United States. In spite of that, Chagas is an often ignored disease that many doctors don't know how to identify.

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About This Quiz

Tropical destinations aren't all idyllic stretches of white sand and blue waters. The warm weather and frequent rain contribute to rampant diseases that kill many people each year. How much do you know about deadly tropical diseases?

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