• Question: How many known diseases are there? Also, how many of those diseases have cures?

    Asked by Aaryush to , Kevin, Liz, Beccy, Rosie on 20 Jun 2017.
    • Photo:

      answered on 20 Jun 2017:


      Wow – that’s a good question. Lots and lots – even just the infectious ones (ignoring things like diabetes) there are more than I know. There are parasitic infections (malaria and lung worms – eek!) – there are viruses (Ebola and influenza) and bacteria (tuberculosis) and prion diseases (mad cow disease). And there are fungal infections as well. The list goes on and on. Tuberculosis can (usually) be cured but the drugs have to be taken for months. Ebola doesn’t have a cure. Supportive treatment is given to support the body while the immune system fights off the virus. Influenza infections are sometimes treated with antiviral drugs. Prion diseases, which are infections caused by a misshapen protein, can’t be cured within anything we know now. Maybe you could work on them one day!

    • Photo: Rosie Fok

      Rosie Fok answered on 20 Jun 2017:


      There are a lot, and an awful lot of diseases have no cures. Often in this case, there is treatment that can help with the symptoms, or help to suppress an infection without curing it. This means that when the treatment stops, the symptoms or the infection will come back.

    • Photo: Liz Buckingham-Jeffery

      Liz Buckingham-Jeffery answered on 21 Jun 2017:


      Just to add to the already great answers: there are many, many known diseases, and even more unknown potential new diseases. New infectious diseases in humans often come from animals. For example, scientists suspect that the SARS outbreak in 2002/2003 spread into humans from animals.

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