'Everyday' bugs claim 17m worldwide

INFECTIOUS diseases account for 17 million of the 50 million deaths in the world each year. The most infectious or dangerous are far less exotic than the plague, and many are easily treatable.

Intestinal parasites: the most common infections in the world, with about 1 billion roundworm, 900 million hookworm and 500 million whipworm infections. Giardia, a micro-organism passed in dirty drinking water, infects one in three people.

Diarrhoeal disease: 1.5 billion cases and 3 million deaths a year among children under five; a million adults die.

Acute respiratory infection (including the common cold): on average everyone has about two colds a year.

Vaccine-preventable disease: in 1989 there were 49 million cases of measles, 45.8 million of whooping cough, 1.5 million of tetanus and 190,000 of polio.

Sexually transmitted diseases: 250 million cases a year, including a million with HIV, the Aids virus.

Schistosomiasis (bilharzias): 200 million are infected with this tropical parasite.

Malaria: about 100 million cases a year in African countries south of the Sahara, and a million deaths. Five million cases annually elsewhere.

Tuberculosis: 8 million new cases a year, 3 million deaths.

Hepatitis: two in every five people with hepatitis B - more than 2 billion. One million deaths a year.

Statistics: WHO