There has been a handful of deadly viruses which have swept across the world, killing millions in their pathway. Is it possible that one of these old threats could mutate, and in today's global world spread in a destructive sweep around the world once again, or is the world's most dangerous virus one that is yet to emerge?
The first reported case of Ebola virus appeared in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The virus received its name after the Ebola River Valley where it first appeared.
Ebola has had a 53 percent to 90 percent death rate, and has an average death rate of 83 percent over the 27 years that it has been documented. Fortunately, this illness has been confined to small clusters of the population and has then run its term without expanding globally.
The HIV or AIDS virus made its appearance known in 1981. Statistics taken in 2008 showed that more than two and a half million people became infected with the HIV virus that year, two million people died from it during that year and that an estimated 33.4 million people worldwide were living with the AIDS virus.
So could the HIV/AIDS virus be the most dangerous virus in the world? There have been an estimated 25 million deaths from this illness since it was discovered in 1981 and, with no known cure, its numbers are still rising.
The influenza, or flu, virus could currently be considered the most dangerous virus in the world. It has the ability to mutate and to spread around the world to create a pandemic form of illness that people currently have no resistance to.
Statistically speaking, the Influenza virus has killed more people globally than any other virus. The 1918 Spanish flu outbreak affected 20-40 percent of the world's entire population, and in the two years that it was active, it killed almost 50 million people worldwide.
In 1945, the discovery of a flu vaccine averted pandemics like the Spanish Flu virus outbreak from once again occurring. Yet the influenza virus continues to kill thousands of people each year, and there were very real concerns that the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009 could equal that of the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak.
Luckily, some individuals, in particular seniors, showed that they had already developed some resistance to the H1N1 swine flu virus, and a flu vaccine was quickly introduced to further protect large portions of the population. The question remains: Could the influenza, or common flu, virus mutate once again to become the most dangerous virus in the world?
The Avian Flu, or H5N1, flu virus is still lying in wait. Commonly known as the bird flu virus, this influenza strain was able to bypass pigs and leap directly from bird into human. It is also known that there are a number of bird flu strains currently out there. Could one of these be the influenza virus strain which mutates to kill millions once again?
The Norovirus has been making news headlines of late and is proving very difficult to fight with the current arsenal of antibiotic drugs. Another newcomer to the virus scene in the United States and Canada is the West Nile Virus, which can be easily spread by the common mosquito.
The next deadly virus outbreak may already be hiding quietly out there waiting to strike. Perhaps some other yet-undetected influenza, or one of the older known flu viruses, will be the virus which strikes again in epidemic proportions.
The influenza, or flu, virus may indeed be the most dangerous virus currently in the world.