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The Deadliest Human Viruses

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With the recent widespread of the latest virus, Coronavirus (COVID-19), there is a lot of speculation about it becoming one of the deadliest viruses. Although having the fastest spreading statistics and being declared a global pandemic, it is still not close to being the deadliest. Some of the deadliest diseases in the world have been cause either by viral or bacterial infections. Examples of these diseases include the Bubonic plague (bacterial), small pox(viral), Cholera, Hepatitis, Polio, rabies, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome – viral) and so much more. Some of these diseases can be treated or controlled either through the use of vaccines or medications. Others are still being researched in a bid to find a viable vaccine for treatment. Viral infections differ from those of bacterial in so many ways: bacterial infections can be treated using antibiotics whereas viral infections are treated using antiviral medications. Viral infections may spread through the whole body while bacterial are usually localized, for example, an ear infection. Both can be spread through close contact with infected persons. Below, we list the top five deadliest viruses that have ever existed:


This viral disease is also known as the Ebola haemorrhagic fever and is named after the Ebola river in Congo from which it got its name. The first known case was detected in the year 1976 after an outbreak in a town in Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo). Since then there have been several other outbreaks on various countries with over twenty thousand deaths. Five strain of Ebola virus exist and are identified as Tai Forest, Sudan, Zaire, Bundibugyo and Reston. There are varying symptoms from the onset of exposure time, this could begin with fatigue, headache or body ache and progress to nausea and diarrhoea. In a few cases, bleeding may occur internally and externally. Spread could occur through bodily fluids such as blood and vomit. Currently, there’s an outbreak of Ebola virus in Congo as a result of a relapse from a patient who was infected and recovered in 2019. As of the year 2019, a vaccine called Ebola vaccine was endorsed in the United States. And more persons have now been vaccinated against Ebola.

Lassa fever

Lassa fever is a viral disease caused by the Lassa Virus and carried by a specific type of rat known as the multimammate rat Mastomys natalensis. It occurs as a result of coming in contact with infected mouse droppings or urine or from contact with an infected person (mainly bodily fluids). The most common mode of contamination being from animals to humans. It is endemic to the western geographical region of Africa. It was first identified in a town in Borno, Nigeria in the year 1969. The symptoms include nausea, low blood pressure, breathing problems, to mention a few. There is no known cure for Lassa fever, however scientists and researchers are working towards developing a cure and symptoms can only be addressed directly. The most recommended means of prevention is avoiding contact with infected persons and living in an area that is free of rats. Foods, water and other edibles should be properly covered to avoid contamination via faeces or urine of infected animals. The death toll of Lassa Fever. Lassa fever results in about five thousand deaths yearly.


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and Acquired immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is a disease which affects the human immune system. It attacks the cells of the human body and renders it susceptible to other diseases. HIV exists in three stages and the disease progresses from one stage to another if not properly treated. Rate of progression also varies from individual to individual. Initial infection begins as HIV and later progresses to AIDS. The leading means of contamination is through sexual contact with infected persons. Infection can occur through exchange of semen or vaginal fluids. Some of the symptoms include fever, oral and genital sores and diarrhoea. These symptoms become more acute and leads to other types of diseases as the illness progresses. There is no none cure for HIV/AIDS however the disease is managed using antiretroviral medications. This allows patients live a full life and prevents transmission from mother to child. This disease has been declared a global pandemic due to its high rate of global widespread and the total death toll which amounts to about 36million. Means of prevention include abstinence, use of protection in cases where sexual contact cannot be avoided and use of new needles in cases where blood needs to be drawn. Sharing sharp objects with infected persons should be greatly avoided.

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Influenza, easily referred to as the flu, is a leading cause of various pandemic such as the Spanish flu, Asian Flu and the Flu Pandemic of 1890s with prevailing symptoms including fever, cough and catarrh. It is caused by the virus, ‘Influenza’ which attacks the respiratory system. It is one of the few diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans and vice versa. Severity of symptoms also depends on the type of influenza, there are four types: Type A, type B, type C and type D. It is spread through droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. Treatment of influenza is done mainly through the use of antiviral medications such as zanamivir. Complications may arise in a person’s health due to an influenza infection. Patients are also placed under lots of rest and advised to drink plenty fluids. Influenza vaccines are also given to prevent infection especially in younger children.


SARS which stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome belongs to the same family as MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and COVID-19, all caused by Coronavirus. There are three other viruses known to belong to the Coronavirus family. The first outbreak occurred in China in 2002. There have been several speculations about it being linked to bats. A variety of medications is used in the treatment of the virus. Some symptoms of the disease include fever, diarrhoea and dry coughing. Modes of contamination include coming in contact with contaminated persons, touching areas that have been contaminated or kissing an infected person. There is no known drug for the treatment of the virus although researchers are working towards finding one. No case has been recorded in recent years.

The best way to prevent contamination during either a pandemic or endemic is to practice proper preventive measures. These include good hygiene such as washing your hands regularly and properly (try saying happy birthday twice while washing your hands), avoid crowded places; this is because crowded places have the highest concentration of people and pose a higher risk of transfer. Take vitamins to boost your immune system, this builds your body system’s resilience to infections. Boil meat properly, as some animals can transmits these diseases to humans. Seek proper medical attention when you feel sick and most importantly, avoid touching your face with your hands, especially parts of the face such as eyes nose and mouth. These are some of the main openings through which pathogens can enter the body. Vaccines were applicable shouldn’t be skipped as well as they form an important part of healthcare and help prevent future deaths.

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The Deadliest Human Viruses. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 29, 2023, from
“The Deadliest Human Viruses.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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