Disease X: The Biggest Infectious Threat WHO warns

What is Disease X

Disease X is a mystery pathogen that has been added to the WHO’s blueprint for the first time

World health experts are warning of the existence of an illness, known only as "Disease X", which has the potential to trigger a serious worldwide epidemic. The diseases on the WHO list pose a public health risk because of "their epidemic potential" as well as the "insufficient" countermeasures, according to the WHO.

The report comes after the committee convened in Geneva at the World Health Organization headquarters 6th and 7th of February.

Highlighted in the 2018 annual review of the Blueprint list of priority diseases, WHO said it developed a tool to determine which diseases and pathogens pose a public health risk due to their epidemic potential.

The goal behind including "Disease X" as the 9th disease is not to scare everyone, but to spur public health officials into action to prepare for every infectious disease threat. The first list of these priority illnesses was released in December 2015. Each of these outbreaks have been hard to combat.

Disease X has become the ninth condition on the list that also includes Zika, Ebola and SARS. The report comes this February warning the public of the major threats worldwide.

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"Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious global epidemic could be caused by a pathogen now unknown to cause human disease, and so the R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown "Disease X" as far as possible", World Health Organization said of Disease X.

"These diseases posture real general health hazards and further innovative work is required, including reconnaissance and diagnostics", WHO said.

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".

Marion Koopmans, WHO adviser, said, "The intensity of animal and human contact is becoming much greater as the world develops". The jumps from animals to humans happen as their ecosystems clash and the animals lose their habitats he said.

By including this curious illness on its "List of Blueprint priority diseases" alongside eight known illnesses, like MERS and the Marburg Virus, so can we really say that these diseases are unpredictable?

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