Viruses are a constant danger for the health of the majority of the world population. While there have not been any recent viruses that have turned into pandemics, the risk is still there and world health officials continue to try and keep on top of them and prevent a worldwide epidemic.
The most recent flu virus that raised concerns was the H7N9 flu virus that originated in China and has killed 36 people but has not spread worldwide and not raised any major concerns from health organizations.
There was also a new SARS virus that was found in the Arabian Peninsula that has so far killed 22 people. While neither the SARS virus or the H7N9 are causing a high number of deaths, they are being closely monitored so the viruses don’t turn into major concerns.
Dr. Willian B. Karesh, who is the chief of health policy for EcoHealth Alliance and a wildlife veterinarian, tracks viruses the spread between animals and humans. Karesh states that over the last decade health officials have done a good job keeping on top of all the new viruses and preventing any serious worldwide outbreaks. He does have concerns about people getting complacent about new viruses and not taking health precautions.
Most people are not concerned about new viruses because in the last several years there have been no viruses that have caused a large number of deaths, according to Karesh. Most health officials fear this could lead to people not taking the precautions they need to take to prevent the spread of new viruses.
There are over five new viruses discovered each year and this keeps health officials scrambling to learn all they can about the viruses.
An alarming fact about the current crop of viruses like the H7N9 and the new SARS virus are the high rate of deaths among those who are infected. The H7N9 virus and the typical SARS virus kill about 25 percent of those who contract the viruses. The new virus from the Arabian Peninsula, which is a different strain of the SARS virus and now called the MERS virus, kills about half of the people infected with it.
Think of these death rates and then compare them with viruses from the past like the 1919 Spanish flu which was fatal to only 2 percent of those infected and you can see the concern of health officials is real and people need to be more aware of trying to avoid the viruses by being more careful in their health practices.