Due to the direct contact with the environment the lungs are exposed to a multitude of viruses. This article describes four viral pathogens, which can lead to pulmonary manifestations but are little known because they are rare in Germany. Avian influenza, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), and Hantavirus infections are all zoonotic infections, whereas measles is a purely human disease. All four infections may lead to severe pulmonary complications with a high mortality. Measles, MERS and avian influenza can lead to far-reaching public health consequences due to transmission via individual patients within the human population. The article focusses on relevant aspects of epidemiology, clinical course, treatment, and prevention for each of the viruses. This knowledge seems to be important as cases of these diseases may occur at any time in Germany. © Springer Medizin Verlag GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2020.