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5 most dangerous viruses — and can they be defeated?

Throughout history, mankind has been constantly confronted with various killer viruses with particular resistance to medicines. Stories about epidemics that can lead to the death of all the population of the planet, stir the consciousness and are reflected not only in the media but also in culture.

The Zeke virus

The Zeke virus was first detected in 1947 in monkeys in Uganda, and five years later the first human cases were reported. Today, a total of 86 countries and territories have registered cases of the virus.

The main vectors of Zeke are Aedes mosquitoes, which are found in tropical and subtropical areas. After an insect bite (mosquito activity peaks on a day), people exhibit symptoms such as fever, rash, muscle and joint pain, general malaise and headache. Infection is also transmitted during pregnancy, through sexual intercourse, blood transfusions, and organ transplants. There is still no vaccine against the virus — it is believed that the disease passes on by itself after a few days. This is much more difficult during pregnancy: Zica can lead to children with congenital birth defects. In adults, the virus can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, which leads to muscle weakness and loss of sensitivity in the legs or hands.

Ebola virus

Symptoms of Ebola occur suddenly and usually include fever, weakness, muscle, and headaches. A dangerous and 90% deadly virus was first recorded in the Congo in 1976: an outbreak occurred in a village near the Ebola River, which gave the virus its name.

Fruit bats are believed to be the natural hosts of the infection, and Ebola enters the human population through close contact with the blood, excreta, and organs of infected animals — chimpanzees, gorillas, and others. From person to person, the virus can also enter through liquids. Some scientists believe that under certain conditions Ebola can be transmitted by airborne droplets: the same guess is voiced in the TV series “Hot Zone” and Lieutenant Nancy Jacks (Julianne Margulis), who is trying to prevent an outbreak of the disease in the U.S. in the '80s. No one believes Nancy, and she has to risk her life to save everyone from a deadly epidemic.

Natural Smallpox

In 1980, the World Health Organization announced the final eradication of smallpox through massive vaccination, but in the two thousand years of the virus's existence, mankind has experienced many deadly smallpox epidemics. In the twentieth century alone, the infection killed about 300 million people.

Symptoms of smallpox appear 12-14 days later and include fever, malaise, headache, and severe back pain. After 2-3 days, fever drops and a rash appears: first on the face, hands, and forearms, and later on the torso. It leaves deep scars on the skin and often leads to loss of vision.

Natural smallpox no longer occurs naturally, but the virus is still stored in two laboratories in the United States and Russia with a high level of protection.


By the end of 2018, there were an estimated 37.9 million people living with HIV worldwide. Of these, only 79% were aware of their status.

Human immunodeficiency virus or HIV was first discovered in the late 1980s. It affects the immune system and weakens systems to protect people from infection and certain types of cancer. In nature, the infection is in monkeys without harming them, but for humans, it is fatal to multiply.

Most AIDS patients are infected with HIV-1, which is classified as a retrovirus. They enter the body through mucous membranes or wounds and then begin to kill the immune cells. To date, there is no cure for HIV infection, but treatment with special drugs can control and prevent transmission of the virus.

Avian influenza

High fever from 38 C, severe coughing, in some cases nausea and vomiting ... Bird flu is a deadly disease of wild and poultry, which came to us from South-East Asia.

The infection is airborne from live or dead birds to humans and affects the airways. People who have survived the disease develop immunity. But on average, about 60% of that infected die from the virus.

There are no cures for Avian influenza, and vaccines form immunity to it for a short time. Scientists believe that it cannot be eradicated.

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