Special Report

How COVID Fatality Rates Compare With Other Deadly Diseases

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Hepatitis C
> Case fatality rate (untreated/unvaccinated): 0.3%-9.2%

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation and can sometimes lead to serious liver damage and even liver failure. It spreads through contaminated blood, therefore injected or inhaled illicit drug users are at increased risk of getting infected. Health workers are also at risk because they can become exposed to contaminated blood. The Mayo Clinic estimates about half the people who have the hepatitis C virus (HCV) don’t know they have it.

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Rocky Mountain spotted fever
> Case fatality rate (untreated/unvaccinated): 0.5%

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is a bacterial disease spread through the bite of an infected tic – American and brown dog ticks and wood ticks in the United States. A rash typically appears after two to five days, and the condition can be fatal if not treated with the right antibiotic within five days of symptoms, which include high fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, altered mental condition, and difficulty breathing.

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Typhoid fever
> Case fatality rate (untreated/unvaccinated): 0.9%-5.4%

Typhoid fever is caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi and is rare in developing nations. It can be transmitted via feces or oral transmission. People living in developing countries where typhoid fever is more common, may become infected by drinking contaminated water.

Typhoid fever can be fatal without appropriate antibiotic treatment. Vaccines are available and are recommended for people travelling to places where it is more common. An outbreak of a drug-resistant typhoid fever has been ongoing in Pakistan.

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Lassa fever
> Case fatality rate (untreated/unvaccinated): 1%

Lassa fever is one of a category of viral hemorrhagic fevers that are spread by contact with infected animals or insects, such as mosquitoes, ticks, rodents, or bats. It is endemic in parts of West Africa. It was discovered in 1969 and named after a Nigerian village where the first cases occurred. According to the CDC, an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 infections occur annually, with approximately 5,000 deaths. An antiviral drug is used to treat patients.

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Measles
> Case fatality rate (untreated/unvaccinated): 1%-15%

Measles is a highly contagious virus that often infects children. Its symptoms include fever, dry cough, running nose and sore throat. The measles vaccine is part of the childhood immunization schedule and with increased vaccinations deaths have declined worldwide. Still, It is estimated to kill about 100,000 people worldwide, most of them under 5 years old.

According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the U.S. who get measles are hospitalized. (The high variation in case fatality rates relates to how developed a country is.)

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