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From vomiting kids to evil spirits—how some of our most infamous diseases got their names

Sure, cholera—once a catch-all term for many diseases that resulted in vomiting and diarrhea—comes from the Greek word cholē, for bile. But Greek isn’t responsible for the etymology of all familiar ills, STAT reports. Vomiting elementary students in Norwalk, Ohio, account for Norovirus’s moniker, whereas an air conditioner explains Legionnaires’ disease: At an American Legion soiree in 1976 where 182 people fell disturbingly sick and 29 died, a “lung loving” bacterium had gotten into the venue’s water cooling system and infiltrated the air like steam from a humidifier. Other diseases—from dengue to the basic flu—have similarly fascinating origins.

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