By The Numbers
By David Stires

(FORTUNE Magazine) – The bird flu that's sweeping across Asia has killed more than a dozen people, and health officials warn it could soon evolve into a far deadlier strain. It's only the latest virulent new disease to capture headlines. Severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, first surfaced in China in late 2002, killing more than 900 people and costing Asian economies as much as $140 billion. And Ebola, one of the world's deadliest diseases, has killed more than 1,000 people since the virus was first identified in 1976. But while this exotic group of viruses gets a lot of ink, statistics show they're relatively mild compared with the big three epidemics. Together AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria kill more than six million people each year. --David Stires

A Bug's Deaths

Disease Deaths worldwide

Avian flu 16 Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease 139 West Nile virus 500 SARS 908 Ebola 1000