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What types of viruses are the most dangerous?

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Quick Answer

Some of the most dangerous types of viruses include Ebola, influenza and HIV. While doctors have developed treatments and preventive measures against them, these viruses are still highly contagious and often lethal to those who become infected.

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What types of viruses are the most dangerous?
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Full Answer

Mostly found in Africa, doctors observed the first known Ebola outbreak among humans in both the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976. While different strains of the virus have different mortality rates, the World Health Organization reports that certain strains kill up to 71 percent of infected victims. Ebola returned to prominence in 2014, when a major outbreak in West Africa made news headlines.

Commonly known as the flu, influenza kills around 50,000 people annually during the flu season, though most deaths occur among the very young and the very old. The real danger of the virus, however, lies in more virulent and deadly mutated strains. The Spanish flu pandemic in 1918 infected nearly 40 percent of the world’s population, killing around 50 million people, and scientists say it’s possible that a similarly deadly strain of influenza could emerge in the future.

HIV is the most deadly virus in contemporary times, having killed an estimated 36 million people since doctors first observed the disease in the 1980s. While new drugs make it possible to live with the virus, HIV remains a major health problem in developing countries, where the majority of new infections occur. The WHO reports that around 5 percent of the adult population of Sub-Saharan Africa is HIV positive.

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