Top 10 Deadly Diseases Cured in the 20th Century

These top 10 deadly diseases cured in the 20th century have been plaguing humanity throughout its history. Effects of some of them can be seen in our list of 10 majorly successful people with disabilities. The good news is that today we have the means to cure or prevent them. The bad news is that despite the progress of medicine, there are parts of the world where some of these diseases still kill people.

Creating cures and vaccines for some of the diseases on this list is one of the reasons behind life expectancy going up more than double in the last 100 or so years. In 1900, average life expectancy was 31 year, rising to 48 in 1950 and finally 67.2 in 2010. Having diseases like plague and measles that ravaged the population in the past almost eradicated have helped enormously with ever increasing human life span.

Kateryna Kon/

Kateryna Kon/

Unfortunately, diseases fight back. The viruses that cause them mutate over time into new forms, usually deadlier than their predecessors. It takes time for scientists to come up with a vaccine that would be effective against the new strain. Then the virus mutates again and it is back to square one. This game of cat and mouse has been going on for a long time. The virus that is best known for its adaptability and ease of transformation into something new each time an effective vaccine has been introduced is the flu. Almost every year we have a new scare about a new type that is threating to decimate the humanity, as it happened in the past. In fact, three types of flu are present on our list of top 10 deadly diseases cured in the 20th century.

We ranked the diseases accordingly how deadly they were in our history. There are diseases that are suspiciously absent from the list, like pertussis or whooping cough or polio. The reason for this is that there aren’t reliable data on the number of deaths they caused. Some of them are completely eradicated, others are close to eradication. Hopefully, in near future all top 10 deadly diseases cured in the 20th century will be encountered only in medical history textbooks.