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Strange Diseases That Science Never Explained

Updated October 11, 2019 1.5m views17 items

Medical science has come a long way over the years. We’ve found treatments for the Black Death; we created a vaccine for chicken pox; and we’ve done away with diseases like smallpox and rinderpest worldwide. But there are still some diseases science can't fully explain.

These mystery diseases range from epidemics of dancing dating back to the 1500s, to illnesses that once attacked cows and now target humans. Though some may seem almost comical, most are horrifying, incurable, and dangerous. The fact is, we may never know the causes of a few of these illnesses, but research is ongoing. And for many of these, we can only hope the answers come soon.

Of course, what we do know for now is downright fascinating. So learn more about some of the strange diseases science doesn't understand... yet.

  • Photo: gfpeck / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0

    Stiff Person Syndrome

    A rare disease, stiff person syndrome attacks the nervous system and can cause someone to stiffen all over gradually, but no one has figured out the primary cause. There is also no cure and no way to predict if someone will have it until symptoms appear. 

  • Photo: ClaraDon / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Peruvian Meteorite Illness

    Back in 2007, a meteor crashed in the high plains of Peru. People who approached the site reported headaches, nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms. Twelve people at least were stricken with the illness, and many were treated for symptoms.

    While theories exist, the actual cause of the sickness is not known for sure.

  • Photo: Michael Coté / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

    Let's try to keep things clinical with this one, okay? This issue exists in women, and unlike other forms of genital dysfunction, Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder causes recurring and prolonged arousal. 

    We're not sure what causes this, and while treatments exist, there's no known cure.

  • Photo: Brandon Warren / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Alice In Wonderland Syndrome

    People who suffer from Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) have a changing perception of their size and the size of things around them. In short, these people can feel two inches high. While we know migraines are often linked to AIWS, no known effective treatments or cures exist, and the condition is still being studied.