I’m a doctor and these 6 historical diseases are on the rise and what to look for – from Scarlet fever to tuberculosis

MANY believed them to be no match for modern medicine, but cases of historic diseases such as Scarlet fever and tuberculosis are now rocketing.

The number of people having to be treated in hospital with malnutrition, scurvy and diphtheria has risen by 23 per cent in one NHS area to a five-year high.

Many believed them to be no match for modern medicine, but cases of historic diseases such as the gout which affected Henry VIII are now rocketing

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Many believed them to be no match for modern medicine, but cases of historic diseases such as the gout which affected Henry VIII are now rocketingCredit: Alamy

While social distancing measures during the pandemic saw rates of some infectious diseases drop, gout has spiked.

Experts claim the condition, which affected Henry VIII and causes sudden, severe joint pain, has surged due to us scoffing more takeaways during lockdowns.

Meanwhile, university students have been warned to get up-to-date with vaccinations, particularly for meningitis and measles, mumps and rubella before heading back to halls in September.

Here we take a look at the diseases of yesterday intent on making a comeback.

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Gout

THIS so-called ‘king’s disease’ tends to strike in those who overindulge in rich, fatty food and alcohol – like Henry VIII.

A kind of arthritis, sufferers are struck down with severe, sudden joint pain that’s often hot and features swelling.

Gout, sometimes called the ‘king’s disease’, tends to strike in those who overindulge in rich, fatty food and alcohol

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Gout, sometimes called the ‘king’s disease’, tends to strike in those who overindulge in rich, fatty food and alcoholCredit: Alamy

Visit your GP and make sure you stick to “a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and reduce your intake of alcohol” to ease your chance of gout, says Dr Rachel.

Dennie’s trouble

HAIR stylist Dennie Smith, 60, from Croydon, who runs salon Vintage 62, was diagnosed with gout in 2017.

She says: “I’ve had four children with just gas and air, the pain of gout is worse than labour.

“My GP was really puzzled as to why I got it. I’m a size 10, walk everywhere, eat healthily and rarely drink. He put it down to menopause.

“I pity any sufferer. It’s the most unimaginable pain.”

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is passed through water droplets from coughing, but is usually treatable with antibiotics

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Tuberculosis is passed through water droplets from coughing, but is usually treatable with antibioticsCredit: Shutterstock

CASES of tuberculosis, which can prove deadly, have risen seven per cent in the last year, with an outbreak in Wales in June.

The bacterial infection, which mainly affects the lungs, is passed through water droplets from coughing, but is usually treatable with antibiotics.

Warning signs include a phlegmy and sometimes bloody cough, weight loss, night sweats, a high temperature, fatigue, loss of appetite and a swollen neck.

Scarlet Fever

NHS GP Dr Rachel Ward says there has been a “marked increase in Scarlet fever cases post-Covid”, partly due to children mixing more than they did during lockdowns.

She said: “Though Scarlet fever can be easily treated with antibiotics, if untreated it can lead to complications.

GP Dr Rachel says there has been a 'marked increase in Scarlet fever cases post-Covid'

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GP Dr Rachel says there has been a ‘marked increase in Scarlet fever cases post-Covid’Credit: Alamy

“Symptoms are fever, sore throat, a rash which can make the skin peel (usually on the hands and feet), red colouring to the cheeks and a ‘strawberry tongue’ appearance.”

Polio

CATCHING polio is rare but 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.

Symptoms are flu-like, with a high temperature, fatigue and muscle aches

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Symptoms are flu-like, with a high temperature, fatigue and muscle achesCredit: Getty

“A polio booster is being advised for all children aged one to nine in all London boroughs, even if you are up to date with immunisations,” says Dr Rachel.

Spread via contact with an infected person’s poo, symptoms are flu-like, with a high temperature, fatigue and muscle aches.

Rare cases can suffer paralysis, and if this affects muscles used for breathing, it can become life-threatening.

Malnutrition

“WE are seeing an increase in childhood obesity and poor diet which leads to malnutrition,” says Dr Rachel.

The likes of scurvy (not just a disease of pirates and sailors) and rickets are back on GPs’ radars.

Dr Rachel says 'it is so challenging to put fresh, healthy food on the table with the cost of living going up'

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Dr Rachel says ‘it is so challenging to put fresh, healthy food on the table with the cost of living going up’Credit: Getty

Scurvy leads to exhaustion, bruising, joint pain and bleeding gums, and hits when a person doesn’t get enough vitamin C, while rickets affects bone development in children and is usually the result of vitamin D or calcium deficiency.

Dr Rachel says: “It is so challenging to put fresh, healthy food on the table with the cost of living going up, but there are ways of getting healthy food cheaply or for free, such as community larders and fridges.

“Try the Olio and Too Good To Go app to access surplus or unsold food from shops.”

Mumps and Measles

THE MMR jab is for measles, mumps and rubella, which most of us were vaccinated against in childhood – but check your child’s record, and your own.

Dr Rachel says: “During Covid we have seen a fall in the number of children getting their MMR vaccine.

Most of us were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella in childhood – but check your child’s record, and your own

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Most of us were vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella in childhood – but check your child’s record, and your ownCredit: Alamy
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“There are concerns this will lead to a surge of these potentially deadly diseases.

“Even if you did not take up an invite first time, you can get your child immunised at your GP’s.”

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