Top 10 most dangerous viruses in the world

Although COVID-19 is very contagious, its fatality rate is relatively low in comparison with these 10 viruses.

Published : Feb 27, 2024 17:08 IST - 3 MINS READ

1. Marburg virus

The most dangerous virus is the Marburg virus. It is named after a small and idyllic town on the river Lahn—but that has nothing to do with the disease itself. The Marburg virus is a hemorrhagic fever virus. As with Ebola, the Marburg virus causes convulsions and bleeding of mucous membranes, skin, and organs. It has a fatality rate of 90 per cent.

2. Ebola

There are five strains of the Ebola virus, each named after countries and regions in Africa: Zaire, Sudan, Tai Forest, Bundibugyo, and Reston. The Zaire Ebola virus is the deadliest, with a mortality rate of 90 per cent. It is the strain currently spreading through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and beyond. Scientists say flying foxes probably brought the Zaire Ebola virus into cities.

Also Read | Malaria vaccine trials in Africa confirm high efficacy

3. Hantavirus

The Hantavirus describes several types of viruses. It is named after a river where American soldiers were first thought to have been infected with the Hantavirus, during the Korean War in 1950. Symptoms include lung disease, fever, and kidney failure.

4. Bird flu virus

The various strains of bird flu regularly cause panic—which is perhaps justified because the mortality rate is 70 per cent. But in fact, the risk of contracting the H5N1 strain—one of the best known—is quite low. You can only be infected through direct contact with poultry. It is said this explains why most cases appear in Asia, where people often live close to chickens.

5. Lassa virus

A nurse in Nigeria was the first person to be infected with the Lassa virus. The virus is transmitted by rodents. Cases can be endemic—which means the virus occurs in a specific region, such as in western Africa, and can reoccur there at any time. Scientists assume that 15 per cent of rodents in western Africa carry the virus.

6. Junin virus

The Junin virus is associated with Argentine hemorrhagic fever. People infected with the virus suffer from tissue inflammation, sepsis, and skin bleeding. The problem is that the symptoms can appear to be so common that the disease is rarely detected or identified in the first instance.

7. The Crimea-Congo fever

The Crimea-Congo fever virus is transmitted by ticks. It is similar to the Ebola and Marburg viruses in the way it progresses. During the first days of infection, sufferers present with pin-sized bleedings in the face, mouth, and the pharynx.

8. The Machupo virus

The Machupo virus is associated with Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, also known as black typhus. The infection causes high fever, accompanied by heavy bleeding. It progresses similar to the Junin virus. The virus can be transmitted from human to human, and rodents often carry it.

Also Read | Hydroxychloroquine: COVID ‘cure’ linked to 17,000 deaths

9. Kyasanur Forest Virus (KFD)

Scientists discovered the Kyasanur Forest Virus (KFD) in woodlands on the south-western coast of India in 1955. It is transmitted by ticks, but scientists say it is difficult to determine any carriers. It is assumed that rats, birds, and boars could be hosts. People infected with the virus suffer from high fever, strong headaches, and muscle pain which can cause bleedings.

10. Dengue fever

Dengue fever is a constant threat. If you’re planning a holiday in the tropics, get informed about dengue. Transmitted by mosquitoes, dengue affects between 50 and 100 million people a year in popular holiday destinations such as Thailand and India. But it’s more of a problem for the two billion people who live in areas that are threatened by dengue fever.

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