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As Coronavirus Takes Public Attention, Here Are Five Less-Reported Lethal Viruses

Virus Viewed Under a Microscope (Courtesy of Pixabay)
Virus Viewed Under a Microscope (Courtesy of Pixabay)

SARS, Ebola, Avian Influenza, Dengue Fever, and Rabies are some of the world’s most deadly viruses.

The New Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was allegedly first identified in a seafood market that also sells other animals such as bats and dogs in the China city of Wuhan. In less than a month, the virus has spread quickly to 23 countries, infected more than 14,000 globally, and claimed over 300 in China alone so far. The Philippines confirmed one death due to the outbreak, as NYT reported Sunday (February 2).

After facing criticism for mistakenly assessing the virus’ risk, the World Health Organization (WHO) finally declared the Coronavirus epidemic a global health emergency. Several countries like France, Indonesia, as well as the U.S, have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan as a response to the outbreak.

Besides the New Coronavirus, here are the world’s deadliest viruses:

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

The symptoms of the Wuhan Coronavirus are similar to those of SARS, which include cough, sneeze, runny nose, and breathing difficulties. The new Coronavirus is a new strain of Coronavirus that caused SARS that hit China and other parts of the world in 2002-2003.

SARS, which was believed to start from civet cats and bats, killed almost 800 and infected around 8,000 globally. Human-to-human transmission is likely through close contacts.

Despite experts claiming that SARS is more lethal than the Wuhan Coronavirus, the latter spreads more quickly by infecting more than 14,000 in a month while it takes four months for SARS to infect 1,000.

Ebola

The Ebola virus is associated with Africa as the deadly outbreak emerged first in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1976. The spread of the virus allegedly emerges from interactions between humans and infected animals.

In some countries, the Ebola virus has different names, such as Reston, Hutan Tai, and Bundibugyo. West Africa saw the largest Ebola outbreak in 2014-2016 since the first outbreak in 1976. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2014-2016 epidemic, which claimed around 11,000, a global health emergency. The explosion hit DRC eastern part in 2018-2019, killing 1,600 people. The conflict in the area complicated the handling of the health crisis.

The Ebola symptoms are similar to those of influenzas, such as sore throat, headache, muscle pain, and fever. There are some more severe signs such as bruises, diarrhea, blood in the stool, and liver and kidney problems.

Avian influenza (AI)

Avian flu infects domesticated bird species such as chickens, turkeys, and ducks. Two strains of virus cause AI; H5N1 and H7N9. The virus initially transmits among either wild or domesticated poultries. However, the virus evolves, and its mutation can infect humans as well.

There several factors that can increase the risk of Avian flu, such as visiting an unsanitary poultry market and eating uncooked chicken, duck, or eggs. When a person is infected with the H5N1 virus, the symptoms may vary, which include stomach ache, fever, breathing problems, and chest pain.

Pssst, while you're here...

As the Coronavirus epidemic shows no signs of receding, China has confirmed the outbreak of H5N1 in Hunan Province, near the Coronavirus-hit Hubei Province, as NHK reported.

The mainland’s Ministry of Agriculture reported that the Hunan authority had slaughtered 17,828 birds following the outbreak. There have been no H5N1 cases found in humans so far, the ministry added.

The bird flu virus was first spotted in a goose’s body in China in 1996. The Avian influenza outbreak hit China in 2013. The WHO reported the disease cost China’s economy up to $ 6.5 billion.

Dengue Fever

Female mosquitoes (Aedes Aegypti) carry the Dengue virus. The symptoms usually emerge 4 to 7 days after the mosquitoes’ bites and can last for ten days. They include high fever, vomiting, drastic appetite loss, bleeding from the nose, and gum. However, sometimes people mistake such symptoms for the common flu. Therefore, a blood test is vital to determine the illness and take preventive measures.

Data quoted from Webmd said that there are around 400 million dengue infections found worldwide every year. Dengue fever attacks 50 to 100 million people per year in popular holiday destinations like India and Thailand.

Rabies

This virus is commonly found in wild animals such as raccoons, foxes, and bats. However, domestic pets, like dogs and cats, are also virus carriers.

The WHO report stated that dogs cause up to 99 percent of rabies cases infecting humans. Rabies is found everywhere, except Antarctica. The highest mortality rate is in Asia and Africa. Most of the Rabies victims are children under 15 years old.

Luckily, Rabies can be prevented by vaccinating dogs. Pre-exposure immunization is also vital for those traveling to outdoor areas.

The incubation period of Rabie virus may vary, depending on several factors such as virus load and virus location. The symptoms include high fever, weakened muscle, heavy headache and numbness. The Rabies virus also attacks human’s nervous systems.

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Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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