Mysterious 'Disease X' Could Be The Next Deadly Global Epidemic, WHO Warns

Mysterious 'Disease X' Could Be The Next Deadly Global Epidemic, WHO Warns

Mysterious 'Disease X' Could Be The Next Deadly Global Epidemic, WHO Warns

It added that special populations such as refugees, internally displaced populations, and victims of disasters, constitute potential victims of the listed diseases.

The WHO uses the term Disease X for a "known unknown" pathogen with the potential to kill millions of people across the globe.

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

The WHO says it omitted several groups of diseases, such as hemorrhagic fevers and emergent non-polio enteroviruses from its priority list.

To be clear, we don't yet know what Disease X is.

After a meeting at its Geneva headquarters gathering health experts across the world, the organization released its 2018 Blueprint list of priority diseases, which include Ebola, Lassa fever, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Rift Valley fever (RVF) and Zika.

This is the first time that Disease X has made the list, during a convention of experts on viruses, bacteria and infectious diseases.

According to an analysis by the Telegraph, sources of Disease X could be experiments of bio-weapons, animal diseases that can be transmitted to humans - zoonotic diseases in general, and the potential evolution of existing diseases.

"Disease X" is the code name for an unknown pathogen that could be created by biological mutation, such as previous deadly epidemics such as Spanish Flu or HIV, the organization said. The decision is rooted in the belief that humanity has learned a thing or two from its past experiences with global pandemics, and that it's crucial to anticipate what could be and prepare accordingly.

John-Arne Rottingen, chief executive of the Research Council of Norway and a scientific adviser to the World Health Organization committee, added: "History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before".

"It may seem unusual 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. "It is vital that we are aware and prepare".

Whatever the case may be, the WHO hopes its list will spur governments across the globe to invest more into strengthening local health systems. "It is probably the greatest risk", said Mr Rottingen. This has also brought us in closer contact and closer contact with more species of animals than ever before, exponentially increasing the likelihood of zoonoses.

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