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5 Weird Diseases That Are Freaking Me Out

Diseases, by definition, are scary, because they cause our bodies to do things they aren’t supposed to. But some diseases are weirder (and freakier) than others. Forget chicken pox – these diseases are the real deal.

Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis, a.k.a. Tree Man Illness

Epidermodysplasia Verruciformis (say that ten times fast) is better known as “tree man illness,” and for a good reason: those who suffer from this debilitating condition appear to have tree bark growing out of their skin! The exact cause of these bark-like scales and lesions is still pretty much unknown, but doctors have found it to have something to do with a heredity mutation of genes, which prevent zinc from properly distributing within the body’s cells. While this is an incredibly rare genetic disease, it doesn’t yet have a cure.

Kuru, the Disease of Cannibals

Besides the societal and moral arguments against eating another person, here’s another reason to add to the list. Kuru, a brain disease, has been found in people living in tribes in Papua New Guinea. These people sometimes practice mortuary cannibalism, meaning that they don’t just bury their dead relatives – they eat them, too. Eating human organs, especially the brain, can lead to the transmission of what’s called prions, which are infected proteins. What’s stranger is that kuru is also known as “the laughing disease” because those who have it tremor as if they’re laughing. Creepy.

Pica, the Desire to Eat Things That Aren’t Food

Have you ever had a strong, insatiable desire to eat dirt? Didn’t think so. But those suffering from pica can’t help themselves from wanting to eat non-nutritious foods such as paper, sand, metal, chalk, stones, and ice. Obviously, this can cause problems such as having blockage in the intestines. This strange disorder is sometimes caused by obsessive compulsive tendencies. However, in some cases, pica isn’t caused by a mental disorder, but rather by a deficiency of minerals such as iron.

Porphyria, Vampire’s Disease

Skin that’s sensitive to the sunlight, shrunken gums that cause teeth to look like fangs, and a strong allergy to garlic – get your stake ready, because vampires exist! Although it sounds like something that you would see on the front cover of a tabloid magazine, the truth is that this “vampire disease” is real, though rare. In fact, some scientists have argued that this condition may be the cause of the vampire myth. Don’t worry about becoming a vampire yourself through an unfortunate bite to the neck, as porphyria is a genetic disorder, and not transmittable.

Hypertrichosis, the Werewolf Syndrome

There couldn’t be a vampire disease without a werewolf disease, could there? Indeed, hypertrichosis is a real condition in which sufferers can’t control the hair that grows out of unsightly places, including all over their faces. While this condition is rare, some with hypertrichosis made use of their syndrome by performing in circus sideshows during the 1800s. This werewolf’s disease is usually caused by genetic mutations, but it has been linked as a side effect of cancer, anorexia, and hormone imbalances.

[Images via Gizmodo, CubeBreaker, BasementRejects, MoviePilot, TwistVox]

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