The Return of the Victorian Diseases

A series of deadly diseases, which wreaked havoc during the Victorian age, are staging a comeback. Conditions on the rise include typhoid, whooping cough, rickets and scarlet fever.

The UK has seen an increase of 50 per cent on new scarlet fever cases since 2007, a pandemic disease that once killed thousands of people throughout Europe 200 years ago. As a result of this increase doctors and hospitals have also been put on alert for possible outbreaks.

Typhoid and whooping cough are at their worst levels in more than a decade.

The return of these diseases can be attributed to the rise of cheap package holidays to parts of the world where tuberculosis and typhoid are rife combined with poor nutrition and outbreaks of flu.

Here are some guidelines about how to recognize and prevent these feared diseases:

-Typhoid: This infection is caused by salmonella bacteria. Its symptoms include fever, constipation and tummy pain. Typhoid outbreaks are common in Asia, Africa and South America. Most of the cases in the UK are attributed to people who have brought it from abroad. The most effective way to prevent this disease is by vaccination, so if you are thinking about travelling to these areas it is better to get advice from either your local GP or your international health insurance provider.

-Rickets: This condition is caused by a deficiency in vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium and make sure it gets it where is needed, namely your bones and teeth. If the bones do not get enough of the calcium that they require, then they can become soft and weak. This illness is common amongst children of African-Caribbean descent because dark skin needs to be in the sun longer than pale skin to get vitamin D. The increase use of sun protection creams in the UK might have led to more children being deficient in vitamin D and as a result more exposed to the risk of getting rickets. The best way to prevent it is to eat plenty of food rich in vitamin D like oily fish, liver, eggs and breakfast cereals.

- Scarlet Fever: This disease is usually caused by a bacteria transferred through mucus or saliva. Its most common symptoms are vomiting, tonsillitis and swollen glands in the face and neck. The severity of this disease can be curbed to a great extent by the use of antibiotics. These bacteria can also spread via cutlery, clothes and bed linen so it is important to wash everything regularly and at high temperatures.

-Whooping Cough: This is a bacterial infection which can be easily spread between people and usually affects infants and young children. The UK has a national immunisation programme against whooping cough, however a health scare about 30 years ago led to a loss of faith in the vaccine causing cases of whopping cough to rise. Its symptoms are sore throat, hacking cough, a runny nose and watering eyes. It is worth mentioning that the current vaccine is very effective even though its effectiveness decreases over time. However the symptoms tend to be milder for adults.