COVID-19 has caused the most deaths of several recent outbreaks of easily transmitted zoonotic diseases, with more than 400,000 deaths worldwide. The next most deadly, the H1N1 swine flu, claimed at least 151,700 lives.

Sources: “2009 H1N1 Pandemic,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 11, 2019,; “2014-2016 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, March 8, 2019,; “COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering,” John Hopkins University, June 16, 2020,; “Cumulative Number of Reported Probable Cases of SARS,” World Health Organization,; “Ebola Dashboard,” World Health Organization, June 17, 2020,; “Human infection with avian influenza A(H7N9) virus — China: Update,” World Health Organization, Sept. 5, 2018,; “Pandemic (H1N1) — update 112,” World Health Organization, Aug. 6, 2010,; Yella Hewings-Martin, “How do SARS and MERS Compare with COVID-19?” Medical News Today, April 10, 2020,

Data for the graphic are as follows:

Epidemic Main Host Species Year of Emergence Worldwide Deaths
COVID-19 Bats 2019 441,505 (as of June 16)
Swine H1N1 Pigs 2009 at least 151,700
Ebola Bats 1976 13,593 (as of June 23)
MERS Camels 2012 866
H7N9-Avian Chickens 2013 813
SARS Bats, Civet Cats 2002-2003 615
H5N1-Avian Chickens 2003 384

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