During a typical flu season, up to 500,000 people worldwide will die from the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the U.S., it’s usually about 30,000, mostly among the very elderly or immune-compromised. But occasionally, when a new strain emerges, a pandemic results with a faster spread of disease and, often, higher mortality rates. Last year, 80,000 U.S. residents failed to recover from the flu.
The deadliest flu pandemic, sometimes called the Spanish flu, began in 1918 and sickened up to 40 percent of the world’s population, killing an estimated 50-100 million people. Indeed, it was a factor in bringing about the end of World War I.
Could such a flu pandemic happen again? If a true long-term disaster scenario occurs, we’ll be thrown, medically, back to that era, so it’s possible. Despite this, many don’t take measures to prevent it.
There are infections out there, however, that are often fatal and can’t be treated with antibiotics. These are usually viral in nature. Last time, we talked about HIV, hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola and its relatives, plus the rodent-borne Hantavirus.
In this part of our series on deadly viruses, we’ll go over a few well-known diseases, but also cover some that you may not have heard about.
Dehydration from intestinal viruses is a major killer in less-developed countries
The World Health Organization reports that this virus kills more than half a million children annually worldwide. They even believe that every child on the planet has been infected at least once with it. You get it by ingesting bad food and water or touching surfaces contaminated with infected feces…
Infectious disease is of major concern in good times or bad, and the family medic must be able to identify some of the deadliest. Having just written a book about infectious diseases and the antibiotics that treat them (Alton’s Antibiotics and Infectious Disease: The Layman’s Guide to Available Antibacterials in Austere Settings), we’ve done our research on some of the worst illnesses that can occur even in countries with advanced medical systems. There are infections out there, however, that are often fatal and can’t be treated with antibiotics. These are usually viral in nature.
What are the worst viruses on the planet? That depends: Are you looking at the total number that died from a particular disease over the course of history? Are you monitoring the number that die every year in the present, or is it the percentage of people that die if they get infected? In any case, the statistics can be grim.
In this article, we’ll discuss a mix of the above, and examine a number of viral illnesses that you definitely don’t want to contract…