It is estimated that over 99 percent of all species that have ever lived on this planet have gone extinct. That accounts for over five billion species that have been completely wiped off the earth. Here are some diseases that have totally diminished species, or have been close to wiping them out…
9. Sylvatic Plague
Not only has it reaped havoc over prairie dogs, it is now significantly affecting predators that hunt them. Take the black-footed ferret for example, gophers are their number one food source. If their food source disappears, so will they. And to add insult to injury, the black-footed ferret is one of the most endangered species on earth already.
Thankfully, scientists now have a vaccine for it. Peanut butter is one of the prairie dog’s favorite foods and it actually helps fight against the plague. Scientists mix peanut butter with vaccines, and distribute it all over their habitat. They have also been injecting vaccines into the ferrets, along with using insecticides to kill fleas. Hopefully, doing this can replenish their population, and will not affect anymore animal species.
8. PBFD Virus
This virus when picked up by young birds is almost 100 percent fatal. PDFD likes to hide in feathers and is easily transferred to others. It spreads through direct contact, feather dust, inhalation, and contaminated surfaces, which will most likely lead to death. Symptoms show disfiguring, irreversible feather damage, lesions, twisted beaks and devastating weight loss. Scientists have yet to find a cure.
7. Sarcoptic Mange
6. Chronic Wasting Disease
CWD is similar to mad cow disease, as it attacks the brain and it does not take long to become fatal. Symptoms show a weakened body and weird changes in the animal’s behavior. It leads to drinking a substantial amount of water, along with extreme salivation, as they walk with their ears and head down. Death inevitably follows shortly after.
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), has now wiped out over 60 percent of the rabbit population. That disease was far more successful than previous poisoning attempts. Thanks to RHDV, it has allowed rodents to increase their numbers, which otherwise were almost extinct. Vegetation has started to grow again, and kangaroo numbers along with other species have started to bounce back. For such a brutal disease, it sure has proven to be very beneficial to other species.
A type of flightless bird out of New Zealand called a Kakapos has a population less than 200. It was being killed off by a tapeworm, which is now extinct, allowing this bird to come back from almost being completely killed off. There are parasites that affected the spotted kiwis, both of which now are extinct. Parasites sometimes have to go extinct to save other species, and other times they help save them.
The fungus can be found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. It damages the outer layer of a salamanders’ and frogs’ skin. These amphibians use their skin to absorb water and to take in nutrients, but this fungus will suffocate them to death. Scientists continue to research for a cure.
2. Sea Star Wasting Syndrome
Wasting disease spreads through physical contact while attacking the immune system. Sea stars then suffer an infection that leads to abrasions, which leads to arms falling off. Finally, they turn to mush. It only takes two days for death to occur after the lesions set in.
Scientists remain baffled to why this sudden outbreak occurred. Acidification and warmer water temperatures are possible causes. Wasting disease is now affecting sea urchins as well. As of now, there is no cure for it. Scientists are scrambling to help find a solution before it spreads to even more sea creatures.
Early symptoms are a fever and a sore throat, which soon leads to more serious symptoms, such as organ failure of the liver and kidneys, both internal and external bleeding, and finally death. Not only has it devastated human populations, it has also hit other species close to our own kind. There is a huge variety of primates that call Africa home, especially the big populations of gorillas and our closest relatives, the chimpanzee. In just 40 short years, Ebola has overpowered close to a third of the planet’s species, putting gorillas on the endangered list. Thanks to frequent epidemics, entire populations have vanished.