The 6 Most Brutal Infections You Could Have Right Now

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The 6 Most Brutal Infections You Could Have Right Now

Post  Guest on Mon May 07, 2012 6:30 pm

If you're reading this, you're almost certainly stuck indoors,
maybe in a cubicle but certainly in some place that isn't a tropical
beach. That's why we've always tried to provide the extremely critical
public service of reminding you that things could be much, much worse.

So with that, let's look at these very real (although rare)
infections that are so over-the-top bizarre that they'd be considered
too gross for a David Cronenberg movie. No matter how this day goes,
just be glad you don't have ...

#6. The Parasite That Collapses Your Face

Remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where everyone's
face falls apart? Well, maybe that wasn't God punishing the Nazis after
all, but fast-acting mucocutaneous leishmaniasis -- the infection that
makes your face collapse like it's a sacred temple and someone just
stole the idol at the center.

Face melting has finally moved beyond Nazis and thieving Frenchmen.
In reality, mucocutaneous leishmaniasis takes a lot longer to act (months, years or even decades),
and it begins in the most offensive way possible: with insect poop. The
infection is spread through a poorly mannered sand fly that bites you
and then proceeds to thank you for the meal by taking a dump in the wound. So already we're starting with the kind of action that would make Hannibal Lecter crinkle his nose and say, "Jesus, man, what is wrong with you?"

Ladies and gentlemen, the tampon that destroys lives.
But that's just how the parasite gets inside you -- that's when the scene really gets nasty. The parasite starts going after mucus cavities,
like your mouth and your nose. What it's doing is essentially planting
TNT in all those places, preparing to blow them to hell.

The first thing you notice, a long time after the initial shit-bite,
is painful ulcers in the infected places. If you're lucky, you're left
disfigured for life -- if you're not, your nose collapses into your
mouth and your entire face caves in like a punctured inflatable.

Kodak moment!
This would suck enough on its own, but it's aggravated by all the
health implications: You can't breathe well (because, again, you have no
nose), eating is painful and can cause you to choke and your exposed
airway is considerably more prone to catching pneumonia.

After all that, even your own saliva can kill you, and often does.
See, this is why you never leave your bedroom unless you're wearing your
airtight anti-insect protection suit, and even then only during the
winter. But we're just getting started ...

#5. The Infection That Dissolves You Like Acid

Gas gangrene is a condition that actually melts your flesh into gas and fluid, and is caused by the Clostridium perfringens bacteria. We won't show you images of it because they are gross, so here's the witch-melting scene from The Wizard of Oz instead. Just picture the same thing happening to you. Only much, much more slowly.

And without the whimsical creatures.
Gas gangrene won't dissolve your entire body, probably because you
don't live long enough for that to happen: The infection is so
devastating that it can kill you in 12 hours.
As fast as that may seem, when you get to the part where your nerves
begin to painfully dissolve into liquid, you'll wish it would just hurry
the f**k up.

Oh hey, a close-up that doesn't make us want to kill ourselves.
The way it works is this: Once the bacteria gets into your system (usually through an improperly treated wound), it unleashes dozens of lethal toxins
programmed to shear apart biological tissue, leaving behind liquefied
flesh instead of pus as your body's way of saying "nothing to do here,
pal." It also stops the blood flow to the infected limb, building up gas
and turning your skin into human bubble wrap. The treatment for this
infection hasn't changed a whole lot since the Civil War: It's called

And no one from the Civil War is alive today. Coincidence?
C. perfringens lives in dirt and is technically immortal (in extreme
weather conditions, it turns into a nearly indestructible spore), which
means that even if you survive, it can come back decades later to finish the job.

Oh, and here's our favorite part: It can survive perfectly well
without becoming a parasite in a living body -- in other words, it melts
your body simply because it can.

#4. The Bite That Itches Under Your Skin (For Years)

Imagine a parasite that spreads through your entire body, even
covering your eyes and turning them opaque. If you immediately pictured the extraterrestrial black oil from The X-Files,
we're pretty sure it's actually worse than that. We're talking about
the onchocerciasis infection ... which, also like the black oil,
eventually turns into worms. Huh.

The X-Files often mirrors real life in that it's complicated and Duchovny has sex with everyone.
The Onchocerca volvulus parasite spreads through black flies, a type
of fly that breeds near fast-running rivers, and it's actually the second leading infection that causes blindness in the world.
Upon biting you, the black fly infects you with microscopic larvae that
begin moving through your body, right below the surface of your skin,
harmlessly at first. Just regular old worms under your skin.

"We're just here to chill out, pray for the doom of man, eat eyeballs. No biggie."
But then the party starts: Once they mature, the adult parasites
turn your body into the worst orgy you've been to -- not just because
you're not getting any, but also because afterward you're stuck with a
shitload of babies. And we mean a shitload: A single female can release 1,000 worms per day. And they're all crawling inside you. Under your skin.

Soon, there are over a hundred million microscopic worms spreading
through your skin, lymph system and, yep, your eyeballs. Once the worms
reach the surface of your cornea, it becomes inflamed, eventually
causing it to turn opaque and leaving you blind (which may be a relief,
actually, because we assume all you'd see at this point is giant worms

You are pretty much more worms than human at this point.
So, yeah, that's pretty bad (and pretty gross), but don't think this
thing is gonna go easy on you now that you're disabled. When the worms
die, your immune system goes haywire, producing an intense itching
in every place they reached, which is everyplace -- and you can't even
scratch that itch, because it comes from under your skin. With
treatment, this can last a few years; without it, you'll be scratching
yourself everywhere and nowhere for the rest of your life. The disease
itself is not lethal, but not surprisingly, the itching alone has
apparently driven people to suicide.


"Stop asking me what I've forgotten!"
See? Now your little case of athlete's foot doesn't seem so bad, does
it? This is what we're here for, to keep things in perspective. The
rest of these infections are even worse, by the way ...

#3. The Bug That Eats You From the Inside Out

Killer worms that feed on live human flesh (as opposed to rotting
flesh, which is usually way tastier for them) seems like the plot of a
bad '70s horror movie ... and, in fact, it is.
Unlike in that movie, however, the real life version of those worms
didn't decide to go after humans because they were mutated by a freak
accident, but simply because they are evil. There's no other possible

Pictured: The more rational option.
It all starts with a wound, any wound, even a small one caused by a tick's bite.
That's all the screwworm fly (named "screw" for reasons that will
become obvious) needs to plant its eggs in you, as many as 500. Once
they've found a cozy spot inside the wound, the maggots will proceed to
feed on your live tissue -- if disturbed, they'll drill even deeper into
the cavity and probably won't stop until they see daylight on the other

"So then I said, 'Screw you, worm!' and punched it straight through my arm. It was badass."
Human deaths from screwworm infections are rare these days, because
most people tend to notice when worms are coming out of the gaping holes
in their bodies (also it hurts like hell), but the fact that this is still a thing that happens is disturbing enough on its own.

Even when there's no wound at all, sometimes these little fuckers (Language Timothy) will go for the already existing holes in your body, meaning your mouth, nose, eyes and ears.
Aural myiasis (the technical term for "being earfucked by worms") is
not as disfiguring as the other varieties, but it comes with the extra
risk that, to paraphrase Pink Floyd, "the worms will eat into your
brain," slowly making you lose your shit as you die.

And then you start putting tiny Herbie-style numbers on your pet flies.
When the worms have feasted enough, they emerge from your body and
mutate into adult flies, flying off to infect others, like a tiny but no
less disgusting version of the plot from Alien.

Hey, speaking of aliens ...

#2. The Mold That Hijacks Your Brain

Alien brain-hijacking organisms are a common theme in fiction, from the parasites in Night of the Creeps to the slugs in Futurama.
Well, there's a type of fungus right here on Earth that also takes over
your brain and thoroughly messes it up, although it doesn't actually
control your mind ... yet.

It just makes you bang on windows and throw copies of The Watchtower at your victims.
Molds from the order Mucorales live pretty much anywhere you find
plants or dirt, meaning that everyone reading this article is probably
covered in them right now, or at least everyone who's been outside


All three of you.
People with lower defenses against these common fungi (like those
with diabetes or recent organ transplants) are susceptible to a nasty
condition called rhinocerebral mucormycosis. It starts like a sinus infection,
and like everyone who has ever had sinusitis, you'll become convinced
that there could be nothing worse in the world (but you'll be very, very
wrong). This is followed by a swelling of pretty much everything
currently in your head, including cranial nerves and eyes (think Arnold
in Total Recall), followed by blood clotting and thrombosis. Your
face is dying from the inside out, and starts looking that way --
you're slowly becoming covered in black, necrotic tissue.

Sometimes the fun spreads from the sinuses to the mouth, killing your
palate. The only way to save you at this point would be to remove all
the dead tissue, including the palate, nasal cartilage and portions of
the skull, brain and eyes. Unless RoboCop technology is available,
survival is little consolation.


"What's really annoying is all these ravens making nests in my eye sockets."
Even if it doesn't come to that, the most mind-f**king part (in more
than one sense) is that the killer fungus is actually in your brain,
leaving you disoriented, feverish and nearly blind.

Now, here's the thing: Researchers have discovered several types of
fungi in Brazil that invade ants' brains, take control of their bodies
and force them to move to a place more suitable for their growth
before killing them. If fungi can do that, suddenly brain-snatching
slugs don't seem so far-fetched. In fact, maybe it's already happening
to humans and we don't realize it, and that's why old people move to

And grow tiny little crowns.
#1. The Bacterium That Turns You into the Walking Dead

Neisseria meningitidis is one of the bacteria that can cause
meningitis, a disease that you've almost certainly heard of and does not
need to be more horrible (but is about to be anyway).

If you catch it on a bad day, N. meningitidis will go out of its way to smack you with a fulminant combo that leaves you with rotting limbs and a nearly nonexistent pulse and actually makes you dumber -- in other words, you're a lust for brains away from turning into a full zombie.

"We prefer the term 'differently alive'."
If you're afflicted with fulminant meningococcemia, it usually means
you won't get any of the regular symptoms of meningitis, but that's
actually bad news. First you're hit with a strong cocktail of every sick
feeling you can imagine, including fever, nausea and headaches, because
the bacteria are multiplying in your bloodstream and causing every
organ system to fail. Within a few hours, you'll have serious trouble
breathing and your blood pressure will drop so drastically that blood
stops flowing to your limbs, which will turn all purple and gangrenous. You're basically walking around with dead body parts already.


Like a charley horse, only both rider and horse are necrotic.
Now, remember how we said that if you get this you "usually" won't
get meningitis, too? Yeah, there's a reason we didn't say "always" -- in
some cases, you'll get both the fulminant and the regular editions,
meaning that on top of everything described above, the bacteria will
also fill your brain lining with pus, putting you in a hazy, zombielike
state of confusion (or, worst case scenario, septic shock and coma). But
this doesn't just make you feel like you're becoming dumber: Meningitis actually drops your IQ.
If you survive, the purple limbs may go away (literally, because they
were just amputated), but we're afraid the learning disability is here
to stay.

Oh, and by the way, 10 to 20 percent of the population is carrying a dormant version of this exact same bacteria in their mouths, right now. In other words, we're already infected. We're sorry we didn't tell you that earlier, but it was for your own -- GODDAMMIT, CARL, STAY IN THE HOUSE!

Combined IQ: 30.


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