April 28th, 2012

Easy to confuse lethal and a non-lethal sicknesses

G'day.
I have the following medical question: can anyone help me find a pair of real-life diseases one of which is lethal (it's good enough if it's lethal only for old people) and another isn't such that they are easy to confuse with each other to a silly layman in some way (similar-sounding i guess?) ? The setting is modern realistic-ish so lethality should be according to modern medicine.

It doesn't have to be a disease though, just a condition that guarantees kicking the bucket [if you're old] in a couple of days is good enough too. Like if you could mishear "heart attack" instead of "regular cold" because they sound alike or something, you know.

Edit: After reading all the wonderful helpful comments I realized that I should have perhaps clarified a bit more. The situation that I'm trying to create is that one person (who is pretty much a total dummy) misinterprets what doctors tell her about another old person's condition and concludes that they're about to die when that's far from truth and the old person is definitely gonna live. The working version is that she simply mishears or interprets the words the doctors say wrongly (so viral and bacterial meningitis someone suggested are a very good fit because even if you google it in a rush you could easily read about the wrong one and not care further). However other ways of getting a wrong idea about the condition of the old person that would result in the similar situation are also considerable.

An unrelated bonus question: do any of you know any specifically "journo" terms or slang that are mostly used by journalists giving a chance to identify one by using them?
Thanks for any suggestions!

fishing: gulf of mexico/texas; thumb drives in fish

time/place: Gulf of Mexico (Texas) present day

I have a character on a working holiday of sorts in a little beach/tourist town on the Texas coast, on the Gulf of Mexico. It's a mystery story, and along the way my character inadvertedly winds up working out how a smuggling ring is operating.

1) I'm fine making up a fictional town, but can anyone recommend a real place I can research? I was looking at the middle coast - the character's originally on a business trip to Houston, and gets side-tracked to this town to check on an old acquaintance. So maybe somewhere between Houston and Corpus Christi? Preferably somewhere that's a jumping-off point for deep-sea fishing or diving, as well as local fishing.

2) the main hook (um, 'scuse the pun) of the mystery is that the local ringleader is posing as a fisherman, who fishes off the end of the local jetty (or is it 'pier' in the US?). My character eventually realizes that the fish he's pulling up can't be caught in either that section of the Gulf, or can only be caught in deeper oceans. (or if it helps, I could just go with the freshwater/saltwater angle? But that seems a little obvious) Turns out there's a scuba-diver hooking fish on his line, which contain the smuggled items, so the fish the local smuggler/fisherman is pulling up need to be large enough to contain at least a small package. Preferably something that could be eaten for dinner.
What sort of fish should I have the smuggler pulling up?

3) I was originally going to have the smuggle-fish containing illegal gemstones, but I think that might be too cliched. I thought maybe thumb drives, wrapped in multiple layers of cooking wrap, containing the information for identity theft (I believe it's big business nowadays). Is that viable, or would the cold, damp conditions inside the fish corrupt the data? If it helps, the thumb drives wouldn't be in there for more than a few hours.

searched: gulf of mexico+fishing, texas+fishing. I've found a nice pictorial guide on fish in the gulf, but nothing that tells me what is found where.