Diseases that can kill within 24 hours

There are so many diseases around that have the potential to kill, but what diseases spread so rapidly that you are dead within 24 hours?

Meningitis is one of them. The disease sweeps through the body at such a fast rate that a person can die within a day if they are not medically treated immediately.

We have compiled a list of diseases that  can kill within a day to ensure you are aware of them and know how to act.

1.Meningococcal Disease

This is a disease that is spread through saliva and nasal droplets from infected people, through sneezing, coughing, sharing drinks, kissing, cigarettes etc....It is is fatal in about 50% of people who suffer from it. In about 10 to 15 per cent of those affected they can end up suffering severe neurological defects including cognitive problems, severe headaches and depression.

The symptoms of meningitis are similar to the flu and can easily be mistaken for the flu. This disease has NO geographical barriers. That is, you do not have to be in a certain country to catch this disease. Meningitis is everywhere. About 10 per cent of the population carry this disease in the back of their throats and nose.

Babies and infants are more prevalent to catching the disease because of their weaker immune system.

The disease attacks the meninges or the lining of the brain and spinal cord and a person's responses can become significantly compromised. They may become more sensitive to light, the body aches, fever, stiff neck, the energy level is compromised and there MAYBE a purple rash, however that does NOT always appear. Meningitis Centre Australia recommends don't wait for the rash to occur before you seek medical assistance.

There is a vaccine for most bacterial forms of meningitis including Meningococcal C, Pneumococcal meningitis, HiB, Meningococcal B and A, W135 and Y. They are available on the National Immunisation Plan free of charge for Australian citizens except for the Men B vaccine and the A C W135 Y which needs to be paid for out of pocket. Meningitis Centre Australia has a petition to lobby the Federal Government to get the Men B vaccine ( the most common form of meningitis) on the Immunisation Plan.


2. Flesh Eating Bug

This bug can quickly sweep through the body eating the body's soft tissue. It is usually caused by more than one type of bacteria with Streptococcus (group A strep) the most common bacteria.

The bacteria attacks the connective tissue surrounding the muscles, nerves, fat and blood vessels causing it to die. This can lead to the loss of limbs or life.


A stroke can occur  when a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot in the brain. It shuts off the oxygen supply causing brain damage. But these days 80 per cent of premature heart attacks and strokes are preventable. The most common symptoms of stroke is numbness to the face, arm,or leg and usually affects one side of the body.

4. Cholera

This is an intestinal disease caused by eating contaminated water or food  and can kill anyone within hours. Those struck by infection suffer diarrhoea and can lead to dehydration and death if not treated urgently.


This is a disease where the bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics. Also known as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  The symptoms of MRSA depend on where you're infected. Most often, it causes mild infections on the skin like sores or boils. But it can also cause more serious skin infections or infect surgical wounds, the bloodstream, the lungs, or the urinary tract.

6. Enterovirus D68

This virus  is spread from the patient's saliva, coughs and sneezes and can be picked up from household surfaces that are contaminated with the bug. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and muscle soreness. Asthmatics are at more greater risk of catching this virus. In more serious cases it can cause wheezing and severe breathing difficulties which can cause death.

7. Bubonic Plague

Yes we know this as the "Black Plague"  caused by a bite or fleas from an infected small animal like a rat. While not found in Australia, it is endemic in African countries, Russia,  the Americas and throughout Asia. The symptoms are fever and chills, headaches and body aches, vomiting and nausea.

8. Ebola

Over 11,500 people have lost their lives worldwide  to Ebola. This  virus is transmitted through close contact  with blood, secretions  organs or bodily fluids from infected animals. It is  common in West African countries like Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

9. Dengue Fever

You might have heard of this disease within Australia and places like Bali. This disease is spread by an infected mosquito. Symptoms are high fever, headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain and a rash or bleeding from the nose and gums. These infected mosquitoes usually live in tropical countries. there is no vaccine available for this so protection is recommended.  Close window screens and doors, use repellents and wear long sleeve clothing.

Most of these diseases can be prevented through vaccines or proper hygiene. Ensure your vaccinations are up to date or consult with your doctor about immunisation here in Australia or if you are going overseas.


Written by Lisa D'Cruz for Meningitis Centre Australia

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