As the COVID-19 pandemic continues around the globe, The Scientist spoke to experts about what other viruses the world should be concerned about. Influenza and paramyxoviruses, in particular Nipah virus, topped the list, along with coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2.




Paramyxoviruses (henipaviruses)

Animal reservoirs

Huge diversity in insectivorous bats and fruit-eating bats. Horseshoe bats (genus Rhinolophus) in Southeast Asia harbor SARS-like coronaviruses.

Water birds, poultry, and domestic pigs. Some outbreaks in dogs and horses.

Some family members abundant in fruit bats.

Spillover history

Four “common cold” coronaviruses may have origins in bats, possibly in last few centuries. SARS caused an outbreak during 2003–04. MERS continues to infect people, presumably jumping from camels. 

Numerous pandemics throughout human history were likely due to flu. Confirmed flu pandemics include the devastating 1918 pandemic, as well as pandemics in 1957–58, 1969, and 2009.  

Hendra virus...

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