9. The 1899 Kissing Bug Epidemic.
The kissing bugs are great black bugs of the Pampas. They are bloodsuckers that transmit a parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease. Any victim of the disease will undergo two phases. The first starts a week after the initial bite where the victim will suffer infection, undergo severe pain, fever and swelling. The second stage only repeats 25 years later and damages their organs through an irreversible process. Though it is rarely heard of, chagas disease claims about 7000 to 12,000 lives per year.
Even though we don’t view them as a threat today, the kissing bugs were the main subject of an epidemic during the summer of 1899. After a reporter tagged the kissing bugs as the culprit behind the increasing number of bug bites, especially on the lips, panic started erupting all around the country. People started coming forward and blaming the bugs for any wounds or bites in their faces. The epidemic was so great that even homeless people started wearing bandages around their lips. As usual, many opportunists took advantage of the situation and called in sick and blamed the bug to get them out of work. Since no bug was ever found to be the reason behind it, authorities concluded that it was nothing more than a mass-hysteria.
10. The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic.
In 1962, a small Tanzanian village was plagued by a laughter epidemic that lasted for about 18 months. Though it sounds simple and joyful, it is associated with extreme stress, anger, sadness or an uncontrollable mania. This hysteria still exists among individuals today who undergo chronic stress. The incident in 1962 began with a small joke, in a Tanzanian girls school. Soon enough, the epidemic spread around the community and with an estimated 1,000 people affected by uncontrollable laughter. Some of the sufferers laughed and cried for a few hours and even up to 16 days. Christian Hempelmann of Texas A&M University, a leading expert describes this as a mass hysteria or sociogenic illness. It could have been a chain-effect started by the single girl who was suffering from anxiety-induced laughter. Due to this weird outbreak, 14 Tanzanian schools had to be temporarily shut down.
11. The Phantom Pregnancy Panic In London.
During the 1970’s, a psychiatric ward in London had to endure a crazy case of mass-hysteria known as the phantom pregnancy. It all began with a 17-year-old patient named Louise. She started informing other patients about her imaginary pregnancy. Louise was known to have a history of lying to get attention. After she learned of her best friend’s death after childbirth, her condition worsened. Doctors believe that she was experiencing phantom pregnancy as a result of panic or comparing herself with her best friend. Whatever it may have been, she was successful in convincing other female patients about her pregnancy. Soon, all the female patients started screaming that they were pregnant too. Doctors had to reassure the women that it was nothing but mass-hysteria to finally calm them down.
12. The Coca-Cola Scare, 1999.
In June 1999, Coca-Cola suffered a huge backlash in Europe when more than 100 students in Belgium consumed the beverage and fell ill. The incident caused a mass panic that led to the beverage being banned for several days until an investigation was conducted. The company was thought to have lost an estimated $200 million due to the incident. Lab tests performed on the drink showed it to be contaminated with carbon dioxide and phenol but the amount was too small to cause any harm. Prior to the incident, news about mad cow disease and dioxin-tainted animal products were circulating around. Belgian scientists later confirmed that this was nothing more than a case of mass-hysteria. A year later, Belgium’s High Hygiene Council agreed with the scientists findings and finalized that mass-hysteria was behind the illness.
Also read: 14 Unbelievable & Crazy Facts About Dubai That The Rest Of The World Is Not Aware Of
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