10 of the most bizarre health stories of 2018

Weird medical stories of 2018
Weird medical stories of 2018

Disease is part of daily life. At Health24 we report on the most common conditions, such as colds and allergies, fungal skin infections and stomach ailments. We often share remarkable stories – but sometimes things get quite bizarre...

These stories made headlines in 2018 – some of them weird, some a bit gross, some wacky, and some heart-breaking.

1. Gene edited baby claim by Chinese scientist sparks outrage

A Chinese researcher reportedly altered the DNA of twin girls born in November 2018 to try and help them resist possible future Aids infection. This report sparked a mixture of alarm and outrage among scientists, the Chinese government and medics. While gene editing has been on the research radar for a long time to help eradicate dreaded diseases, the ethical implications of this are still being debated.

2. Smartphone addict couldn’t move fingers for a week

You might want to spend less time scrolling through social media this holiday – it might be bad for your hands! Health24 reported earlier this year that a woman lost the ability to move her fingers after using her smartphone continuously for a week. Apparently, she felt pain, followed by the inability to bend her fingers. We suggest taking regular breaks from your phone.


3. You probably have microplastics in your poop

Plastic can be everywhere – even in our gut, a small study found. Microplastics, as these fragments are called, were found in stool samples from a handful of volunteers located across Europe and Asia, researchers report. A larger follow-up study is still needed to explore the implications of this. But still, it sounds pretty gross.

4. 7 weird things people have swallowed

And speaking of gross – apart from microplastics in their gut, people have been found with other inedible objects inside them. From pens to lighters to hair pins, these are some of the weirdest things people have swallowed. This should serve as a warning – if you are popping Christmas crackers at the dining table, keep the plastic toys away from the little ones.

5. 5 illnesses named after fairy tale characters

Are you someone who likes to impress at family gatherings by bringing up weird facts? This might be the perfect reading material for you. We compiled a number of illnesses named after fairy tale characters.

6. 'Fish' pedicure stopped woman’s toenails from growing

Heading to a spa or to a lush tropical resort? You might want to rethink the fish pedicure. A woman from New York, USA, lost more than dead skin cells after going for a trendy fish pedicure at a spa. She picked up a condition named onychomadesis, which completely stops the nail bed from producing nail tissue.  

fish pedicure

7. Have astronauts ever had sex in space?

This headline is just plain bizarre. The human body is subjected to all sorts of conditions in space, such as muscle degeneration and loss of circulation. Scientists wanted to know how this would affect sex.

8. Meet the dog that is allergic to humans

This pooch named Cruella kept on getting ill after cuddles with her human. The Border Collie Labrador mix would constantly itch and lose hair. Vets could not figure out her condition, despite different diets and treatment baths. Allergy testing finally revealed that poor Cruella is allergic to human dander, just like humans can be allergic to pet dander.

9. Real-life vampire woman is allergic to sunlight

Think twice before you complain about the heat this summer. Julie Rohrdanz (45) from Marshalltown, Iowa, in the US, suffers from polymorphic light eruption – she’s highly allergic to sunlight.

When her skin is exposed to sunlight, she quickly develops a red, itchy rash. It can take up to a week for the rash to clear up. She can only venture outside if she is covered from head to toe. It is not a condition to be taken lightly, but she manages it with the help of of hydroxychloroquine, traditionally a malaria prophylactic and medication.

10. SEE: Girl with rare disorder eats sand, pens and erasers

We all have certain cravings, but some are extreme and may be caused by a lack of minerals in the body. Jade Noakes has had the urge to eat inedible objects since she was young and was even once rushed to hospital because of lead poisoning after eating pencils. She has since been diagnosed with pica, a disorder characterised by the need to eat normally inedible things. Apart from a lack of nutrients in the diet, this condition can also have psychological causes.

girl sitting on couch chewing pencil

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24