170. Strange Sickness

The survivors of one of the strangest epidemics of the modern world were reduced to mere frozen figures, human statues made of stone, looking bizarre and weird. These men were the victims of a strange sleeping sickness called “ENCEPHALITIS LETHARGIA”.

This disease appeared in Europe suddenly in 1915 and had spread through out the world by 1918. This strange disease took so many different forms that the doctors were completely baffled and bewildered. They thought that dozens of new diseases were unleashed at the same time! It had affected five million people!

One out of three affected persons died a miserable death soon. Some others fell into a coma, from which they never came out. Those who had survived had their personalities cruelly altered. The mild mannered and obedient children became impulsive, provocative, destructive and lewd! Yet others were transformed to “non-existing-persons” like ghosts and were as passive as Zombies.

This viral epidemic is associated with some forms of influenza. The main symptoms were double-vision and extreme muscular weakness. The other predominant traits were apathy in which a person lacked emotions and feelings. He showed a total lack of interest in what normal persons found exciting, interesting and moving. He showed no response to any stimulation.

This viral epidemic spread through the bites of Tsetse fly—belonging to the blood sucking African flies of the genus Glossina. The bite of the fly transmitted pathogenic trypanosomes to human beings and livestock!

Visalakshi Ramani


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