Flu season is here, and half the fun of getting sick is calling out from work and imagining how sad everybody would be at your funeral if you died. The fun stops, however, when those “flu-like symptoms” turn out to be just that—flu-like, rather than influenza itself. You see, it isn’t really the virus that’s causing all of the symptoms of “the flu,” but your own immune system going bananas in an effort to kill it. Unfortunately, your immune system goes bananas in almost the same way regardless of what’s trying to kill you, so quite a few life-threatening illnesses can easily pass through an acute phase (when they might still be treatable) and be written off as a touch of the flu.
So, this flu season, in a continuing effort to turn you into a paranoid basket case who’s afraid to go outdoors, here are five diseases that feel just like the flu, but that will totally kill you if you ignore them.