Thanks to vaccinations, many of us have no idea what some of the most common and deadly diseases of the past look like when they infect a person. Luckily, the team at Buzzfeed recently released a video to show us, and to remind us how much vaccines protect us.

Hepatitis B

The hepatitis vaccine was introduced in 1982, but complications from this disease still kill about 686,000 people annually. According to the World Health Organization, Hep B is a viral infection that attacks the liver, and is spread through blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person.

This disease is characterized by yellowish skin and eyes due to jaundice caused by liver infections.

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The shingles vaccine has only been used since 2006, and thankfully cases of the disease have gone down in the US since its introduction. This is a truly ancient disease, and caused by the same virus that leads to chicken pox. This condition is characterized by painful rashes and blisters.


Smallpox was a major killer, with Buzzfeed reporting the disease to have killed about 400,000 people each year in Europe in the 1700s. A vaccine for smallpox was first introduced in 1796, and now the disease is completely eradicated in the U.S. This disease is characterized by small lesions throughout the body.


Tuberculosis, also known as consumption, has been around for at least 9,000 years. It used to be a major killer among the working class, but a vaccine was introduced in 1921. Individuals with tuberculosis often have extremely pale skin, sunken eyes, and may cough up blood.


The WHO report that diphtheria is a bacterial infection that is transmitted through respiratory droplets spread through coughing or sneezing. As seen in the Buzzfeed videos, individuals with this illness often get skin lesions on their necks and throughout their bodies.

The Plague

The plague is one of the most infamous diseases in world history, and rightfully so. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the “Great Plague” in the 14th century killed 60 percent of the European population. Individuals with the plague often had pustules all over their bodies and swollen lymph nodes.

To get a better idea of exactly what these illnesses did to the body, check out the video below.

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