By the age of ten or so, I had heard of measles, mumps, rubella (we called it German measles, I never found out why), chicken pox and scarlet fever. Probably a few others I’ve forgotten. I didn’t catch scarlet fever or rubella so I didn’t get the whole set.
Before antibiotics, scarlet fever could kill. Even so, it’s kill rate was 150 per 100,000 which isn’t all that scary really. Mostly it killed through elevated body temperature as the body tries to heat the infection to death. Unfortunately this particular bacterium can survive exposure to 44 degC, and humans can’t. So sometimes it could win.
Modern antibiotics can hit it so the fever comes down before you die of overheating. The kill rate for this bacterium is now so low that influenza won’t even acknowledge it when they pass in the street. As a deadly disease, it was never in the top ten and is now relegated to the second division. A sad decline for a bacterium that tried so hard to make it to the top.
The deadbeat ex-death-dealer is one Streptococcus pyogenes. Sorry to give a link that might seem technical to most but the NHS links were so piss-poor on detail it was unbearable. Okay, I know they have to explain things to drones but come on, it doesn’t have to be so simplistic.
Nowadays, scarlet fever is an inconvenience. Not a scary epidemic at all. It’s very contagious and quite unpleasant to have but it’s really not likely to kill you. It stays in the same seedy hotels as cradle cap and ringworm now. It’ll never get to the Infection Hilton.
This means that a rise in cases is an annoyance. Not an imminent blowing of the horns of the End of Days.
Sure, it’s possible that this particular nasty could become antibiotic resistant and revive its almost-top-40 previous chart position but it hasn’t done that. It’s still trivially curable. It is not a major problem.
Except for tax collectors. Sick people can’t work until they recover. With a very contagious minor disease, this means there is an effect on drone productivity.
That’s where the real problem lies. It’s not about health. It’s always about money.