From time to time certain strains of virus return. A disagreeable Russian virus known as H1N1 caused severe outbreaks over wide areas in 1933, then again in the 1950s, and yet again in the 1970s. Where it went in the meantime each time is uncertain. One suggestion is that viruses hide out unnoticed in populations of wild animals before trying their hand at a new generation of humans. No one can rule out the possibility that the Great Swine Flu epidemic might once again rear its head.
And if it doesn't, others well might. New and frightening viruses crop up all the time. Ebola, Lassa, and Marburg fevers all have tended to flare up and die down again, but no one can say that they aren't quietly mutating away somewhere, or simply awaiting the right opportunity to burst forth in a catastrophic manner. It is now apparent that AIDS has been among us much longer than anyone originally suspected. Researchers at the Manchester Royal Infirmary in England discovered that a sailor who had died of mysterious, untreatable causes in 1959 in fact had AIDS. But for whatever reasons the disease remained generally quiescent for another twenty years.