If wildfires, droughts, scorching heat and devastating storms aren't enough to have you listening for the hoof beats of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, then consider the resurgence in diseases humans once thought they had beat.
Gonorrhea – No one applauds the clap, but the disease seems to be coming back for an encore. The Centers for Disease Control recently warned that there is now only one drug, ceftriaxone, which is effective as a first treatment for the sexually transmitted gonorrhea, reported Fox News.
Ebola – The intestine-dissolving disease featured in the movies "Outbreak" and "The Hot Zone" struck Uganda in July. So far, 16 have died, but the World Health Organization claims the disease is now under control, reported Voice of America.
Bubonic Plague – The disease which decimated the world's population during the Middle Ages is still around. New Mexico is a stronghold of the disease. In July an Albuquerque man was diagnosed with the disease after he disposed of a dead squirrel, reported KRQE.
Black Lung Disease – Inhaling coal dust can lead to the deadly disease pneumoconiosis, known as black lung disease. It was once hoped that safety devices and filters would save miner's lungs, but an investigation by National Public Radio and the Center for Public Integrity found that not only are the number of cases on the rise, but younger miners are being struck down by a faster progression of the disease.
Malaria – Inhaling coal can kill you, but burning it threatens your life in a more indirect way. As greenhouse gases warm the planet, research warns that the mosquitos may be able to spread malaria further and more easily. In the past, malaria affected North America as far north as Canada. Eradication programs largely wiped the disease out in the United States, but a warmer, wetter climate means more mosquitos, making it harder to control them.
Whooping Cough – With nearly 18,000 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, reported to the CDC so far this year, 2012 has been a bad year for lungs, reported CNN.
"That's more than twice as many as we had at the at the same time last year," Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC said on CNN. "We may need to go back to 1959 to find a year with as many cases reported by this time so far."
Cholera – No matter what Gabriel Garcia Marquez says, there is no love in the time of cholera, a deadly diarrhea spread by contaminated water. In the wake of the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, a cholera outbreak has been raging across Haiti, according to the CDC. Over 150,000 cases have been reported so far.
Tuberculosis – Tuberculosis killed some of history's greats including Franz Kafka, George Orwell, Eleanor Roosevelt and Henry David Thoreau. The disease seemed to be on its way out after vaccines and a sequence of antibiotics were found to combat the disease. Unfortunately, drug-resistant strains developed in the 1980s and then spread. Tuberculosis is now globally the second largest killer after HIV/AIDS, when considering single infectious agents, according to the World Health Organization. In 2010, 1.4 million people died from tuberculosis.
Polio – Tuberculosis should serve as a warning in the fight against polio. When a disease is down, don't let it get back up. Four organizations, Rotary International, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and UNICEF, are leading the charge to wipe polio off the planet.
Syphilis – Gonorrhea isn't the only venereal disease in town. Syphilis has been making a comeback, particularly in Germany and Australia. The historical bane of those who frequented the red-light district, syphilis stung famous libertines like Charles Baudelaire, Scott Joplin and Édouard Manet.
Meningitis – Meningococcal meningitis is rare, but can kill a child in a single day. Vaccination rates for the disease are low, but the Voices of Meningitis movement is pushing to increase vaccination rates for children in the U.S. The disease spreads through simple contact and can be difficult to diagnose until is it too late.
IMAGE: Dance of Death by Michael Wolgemut, 1493 (Wikimedia Commons)