Humans have lived with virus for millions of years. Vaccines and antiviral drugs have allowed us to prevent viral infections from spreading widely and have helped sick people recover. Not only have we eradicated smallpox, we’ve prevented it from reappearing in the world.
We’re a long way from eradicating the AIDS virus. In recent decades, many viruses have transferred from animals to humans and caused a lot of deaths. A virus killed up to 90% of the people it infected during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
In addition, there are other viruses in the world that are similarly lethal. Some viruses, though they have a low fatality rate, pose a grave danger to public health as we do not yet have the capacity to confront them.
Here are 12 riskiest killers according to their possible death rates if they are infected with them and the thousands of deaths caused by each of them.
1. Marburg virus
In 1967, scientists found a Ugandan monkey which had been infected with the Marburg virus. Marburg disease looks similar to Ebola in that it causes bleeding.
According to the World Health Organization in 1993, there was a mortality rate of 25 percent, but it was more than 80 percent in 1998-2000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 2001-2002 in Uganda, and even in 2007-2008 in Angola (WHO).
First reported Ebola virus outbreaks in humans occurred simultaneously in Republic of Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. Ebola is transmitted by contact with blood or other body fluids. The different types of the Ebola viruses differ greatly in their virulence.
Ebola Reston virus doesn’t make you ill at all. Because of the Bundibugyo strain, the fatality rate is up to 50% with about 71% for the Sudan strain, according to WHO.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa started in early 2014, and it is the largest Ebola outbreak to date, according to WHO.
(Image credit: CDC/ Dr. Fred Murphy)
Nevertheless, rabies outbreaks for cats and dogs occur in parts of Asia and Africa due to the absence of existing vaccination programs.
“It’s terrible,” he said. “It destroys the brain. It’s a really bad disease.” I have a vaccine against rabies, and I have antiserum against rabies. Therefore, if a person is bitten by a rabid animal, I can treat this person.
However, she said, if you don’t get handled, there is a 100% risk that you will die.
(Image credit: Cynthia Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
This is the deadliest virus in the modern world. “It is still the greatest killer” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, “The pathogen causes a very high number of fatalities.
The number of people who have died from HIV is estimated to be 32 million. Right now, the worst infectious disease in the world is HIV.
Strong antiviral drugs have helped people to live with HIV for years. Particularly in low- and middle-income countries, more than 99% of new HIV infections occurs. More than one-third of people in the WHO African region are HIV-positive.
In 1980, the World Health Organisation announced that smallpox was eradicated from the world. But before that, humans fought smallpox for thousands of years and it killed about 1/3 of the people infected with the disease. It left physical harm and long-term psychological effect.
In impoverished countries such as Africa and Asia, more people died from the Ebola virus than in Europe, where they had no prior exposure to the virus. Ecologists have estimated that 90 percent of the native people of the Americas perished from smallpox brought by white settlers. Smallpox infected 300 million people in the 20th century alone.
It was worth the environment’s protection because of the major negative impacts it had on the world.
Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) has received substantial coverage in the USA. A few months later, officials determined that hantavirus was present in a deer mouse that was found living in one of the homes of infected persons. More than 600 people in the United States have contracted Hepatitis, and 36 percent have died.
There is no direct transmission from one person to another.
A separate influenza virus triggered an epidemic in the early 1950s, during the Korean War. Around 3,000 soldiers were poisoned during the First World War, and about 12% of them died.
Later on, researchers noticed that the Navajo people had mentioned about the condition, and realized that this is the same condition they had observed on the mice.
According to World Health Organisation, about 500,000 individuals will die from the disease next year. Some vaccine-preventable diseases can result in faster spread of disease but with higher mortality rates.
The worst flu pandemic in history struck in 1918 and nearly killed one-fourth of the world’s population, including about 10 million Americans.
“I think that it could occur again anything like the 1918 flu epidemic,” said Muhlberger. “If an influenza virus made its way into the human population, and could quickly infect people, causing serious illness, we will have a major concern.”
Dengue fever first emerged in Asia in the 1950s, and now infects all over the world. Over the years, global warming has caused dengue fever to spread to more parts of the world.
Dengue kills 50 to 100 million people in a year, says WHO. However, the mortality rate of dengue virus is just 2.5 percent. “There should be less things for dengue virus because it is a serious danger to us” said Dr. Muhlberger.
In 2019, a vaccine for Dengue was approved by the United States. The use of Dengue Vaccine for children nine to sixteen years of age living in an environment where dengue is widespread and with a documented history of virus infection is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While a dengue vaccine is approved in many parts of the world, sadly it is not available to 9-45 year olds in some countries. It is likely for those who have not contracted the virus before may be put at risk of contracting dengue.
Two vaccines are now available to protect babies and young children from rotavirus, the leading cause of serious diarrhea. If the virus can spread much faster, … the “fecal-oral” route (meaning that small particles of feces end up being consumed).
Although children in Europe are rarely diagnosed with rotavirus infections, in developing countries, deaths due to rotavirus illnesses are common.
WHO report that forty-five thousand children younger than age five died from rotavirus infection worldwide in 2008. Using rotavirus vaccine prevents child hospitalization and death.
The disease that triggered extreme acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, first emerged in China in 2002. The virus initially surfaced in bats before spreading to nocturnal mammals called civets, and then to humans. after SARS outbreak in China, it has spread to thousands of nations around the world with thousands of casualties.
The illness causes fever, chills and body aches, and sometimes progresses to pneumonia. SARS has a morbidity rate of 9.6 percent and no accepted cure as of yet. However, no new cases of Extreme Acute Respiratory Syndrome have been identified since the early 2000s, according to the CDC.