The total number of deaths in World War One was 16 million.
The number of deaths as a result of the Spanish flu which followed in 1918 was somewhere between 30 and 80 million.
In the 14th century the Black Death is estimated to have killed 75 million people (including anywhere from 30% to 60% of Europe’s population – including Ireland).
Which isn’t to say that the current Swine Flu shouldn’t be taken seriously, just that when it comes to risk our ability to be objective tends to go out the window.
The Black Death by Philip Ziegler is a book well worth reading for the historical and in particular the social and political implications of this desease.