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WHO Warns Against World's Next Epidemic 'Disease X'

13 March 2018, 04:00 | Rodolfo Wallace

WHO Warns Against World's Next Epidemic 'Disease X'

WHO Warns Against World's Next Epidemic 'Disease X'

Another potential channel of which Disease X can spread is through animals.

"Disease X" may cause a worldwide epidemic.

We do not know anything about it.

The World Health Organisation has added a new threat to its list of deadly viruses.

"There is a need to assess the value, where possible, of developing countermeasures for multiple diseases or for families of pathogens", it said.

"For numerous diseases discussed, as well as many other diseases with the potential to cause a public health emergency, there is a need for better diagnostics", said the experts who convened in Geneva to gather the report.

But the mystery threat has not been placed on the list to scare the public.

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"But we are certain there will be a next time". An "unknown" beast for which we are not yet prepared, but which we must anticipate. It also noted that not only viruses, but any type of pathogen could be prioritised under the list.

Why include Disease X on the deadly disease list? Also mentioned are severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), henipaviral diseases, the Rift Valley fever (RVF) and the Zika virus.

This enigmatic name "represents the knowledge that a serious worldwide epidemic could be caused by a pathogen now unknown to cause human disease", according to the WHO. By promoting awareness of this probability, it could stimulate research efforts to address the imminent threat, although it is still unknown.

"History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before", John-Arne Rottingen, Research Council of Norway CEO and World Health Organization committee scientific adviser, told The Telegraph. Experts believe that this unknown pathogen may go unnoticed until it is too late when it has already spread to all nooks of the globe, taking the world by surprise.

"Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious global epidemic could be caused by a pathogen now unknown to cause human disease", the World Health Organization said.

The most probable source of the disease is zoonotic diseases present in wild and domesticated animals, and can be transmitted to humans.

WHO's work alongside governments, scientists and private entities "resulted in the first ever fully effective vaccine against Ebola, developed and tested in 12 months as opposed to the 5-10 years such a process would normally take", said Kieny, who welcomed the opportunity to use her Ebola experience to prepare for future health emergencies. "It is probably the greatest risk", said Mr Rottingen.



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