Virus Examples That Cause Disease in Humans

, Staff Editor
Updated June 25, 2020
Virus Examples That Cause Disease in Humans
    Virus hotspots on a train
    TopVectors / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The world is full of microscopic organisms, like viruses, that can cause illness and disease in humans. Exploring virus examples and the differences between viruses and disease can help you better understand which serious illnesses could actually affect you.

Viruses That Cause Infectious Diseases in Humans

An infectious disease can be spread directly or indirectly from person to person. Most people are more familiar with the disease name rather than the virus name.

You've probably heard about most of these common viruses and the diseases they cause:

  • Virus: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)

    Disease: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

  • Virus: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

    Disease: AIDS

  • Virus: Rotavirus

    Disease: Viral gastroenteritis

  • Virus: Influenza A

    Disease: The flu

  • Virus: Ebola virus

    Disease: Ebola virus disease

  • Virus: Marburg virus

    Disease: Marburg virus disease

  • Virus: Dengue virus

    Disease: Dengue

  • Virus: Flavivirus

    Disease: Yellow Fever

  • Virus: Enteroviruses

    Disease: Viral meningitis


Human Tumor Viruses That Cause Cancer Diseases

Human tumor viruses cause about one fifth of cancers. These viruses infect their host cells but don't kill them. Some human tumor viruses can cause more than one type of cancer, which is considered a disease.

A few human tumor viruses include:

  • Virus: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)

    Cancer Diseases: Burkitt's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, nasopharyngeal carcinoma

  • Virus: Human papillomavirus 16 or human papillomavirus 18 (HPV)

    Cancer Diseases: Cervical carcinoma, anal carcinoma, penile carcinoma

  • Virus: Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV)

    Cancer Diseases: Kaposi's sarcoma, primary effusion lymphoma, multicentric Castleman's disease

  • Virus: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV)

    Cancer Disease: Hepatocellular carcinoma

  • Virus: Human adult T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1)

    Cancer Disease: T-cell leukemia


Animal Viruses That Cause Human Diseases

Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases in animals that can cause human diseases when spread to humans.

You may have heard of these diseases that have transmitted to humans in the past:

  • Virus: Influenza type A (transmitted from pigs)

    Disease: Swine flu

  • Virus: Avian influenza type A (transmitted from birds)

    Disease: Bird flu

  • Virus: MERS coronavirus (transmitted from bats and camels)

    Disease: Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS)

  • Virus: Hantavirus (transmitted from mice and rats)

    Disease: Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)

  • Virus: SARS coronavirus (transmitted from bats)

    Disease: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

Human Health Concerns

Knowing which viruses can be harmful to people and which ones you don't need to worry much about can help you get a handle on your own health concerns. Continue your health education by learning things like common medical abbreviations.