Health Care

What is Disease X?

What is Disease X?”

That's according to scientists making up a World Health Organisation (WHO) expert committee, who have added Disease X to a list of conditions with the potential to become global pandemics.

John-Arne Rottingen, a scientist and an adviser at World Health Organization, considers that the next deadly pandemic will be caused by a pathogen we know nothing about, yet.

Disease X "presents the knowledge" that a serious worldwide epidemic could be caused "by a pathogen now unknown to cause human disease", an excerpt of the review said.

The review, which was released overnight, lists the disease alongside Zika, Ebola, SARS and Lassa fever as the viruses with the potential to cause a public health emergency. The WHO has added this new illness dubbed as "Disease X" to the list of potential epidemics that could devastate the world with a wide outbreak.

World Health Organization will put Disease X on the priority diseases list to force scientists double their efforts to develop reliable protection against unknown pathogens.

The organization also considered adding a number of other diseases to its list of global threats, including arenaviral hemorrhagic fevers, Chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, and highly pathogenic coronaviral diseases.

"It may seem odd to be adding an 'X, ' but the point is make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests", Rottingen told the newspaper.

How is Disease X expected to appear?

This week's brazen use of nerve gas in Salisbury, UK, underlines just how far the 100-year taboo on the use of chemical and biological weapons has broken down.

While we can be thankful Disease X probably doesn't exist yet, the likelihood of it appearing in the future is definitely something we should be aware of, in the hopes we can stay one step ahead of any future threats - especially as we continue to encounter and take over what remains of the natural environment.

HIV is believed to have jumped from chimpanzees to humans and has killed 35 million people since the 1980s.

The list is created to focus minds and spur research and development of new tests, vaccines and treatments.

This is important, because it is primary care systems - local doctors and nurses - that provide the best bet of detecting the outbreak of a new disease early and containing it before it spreads.

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