Animals have some of the best old-timey disease names, including heartwater, foulbrood, bluetongue, glanders, scrapie, camelpox, and bumblefoot.
Okay, I’m a bit of a sucker for poetic disease names. Most of the human diseases have been renamed: dropsy has become edema; consumption is now tuberculosis; the vapours turned out to be a grab-bag for a whole range of unrelated conditions like bipolar disorder and PMS. But several interesting animal disease names are still around. Sorry if the following descriptions are a bit gross – I’ll keep them short and vivid.
Heartwater is a bacterial infection of sheep, goats, cows, etc. The bacteria are carried by ticks, and the resulting infection causes fluid to build up around the lungs or heart, hence the name.
Bees have the best disease names: foulbrood, chalkbrood, and stonebrood all affect bee larvae (i.e. the bees’ brood). Foulbrood is a bacterium that eats larvae from the inside out; chalkbrood comes from a fungus that turns larvae white and desiccated; stonebrood mummifies the poor larvae alive.
Bluetongue affects cattle, causing the tongue to swell, darken, and stick out of the mouth. Glanders hits horses and donkeys, and also goes by the equally poetic names Malleus (“hammer” in Latin) and Rotz (German). Scrapie causes sheep and goats to scrape off their own fleece because it itches so bad. Camelpox is like cowpox, but with camels. Bumblefoot is an infection from lesions on the feet of birds; it’s usually a problem with where they’ve been perching.
Now I want to make an animal disease name generator that combines a descriptive noun or adjective (“chalk” or “foul”) with a body part (“foot” or “tongue”). Bumblebrood? Foulheart?
I live in Auckland, New Zealand, and am curious about most things.