Disease X: The Biggest Infectious Threat WHO warns

  • Disease X: The Biggest Infectious Threat WHO warns

Disease X: The Biggest Infectious Threat WHO warns

Every year, scientists at the World Health Organization create a list of the most likely diseases which have potential to break out into a worldwide pandemic.

The objective 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.

Killing Disease X before it can spread is particularly key in the modern world where travel and trade make it more likely to move around the globe than pandemics of the past.

Luckily, for now, it all hinges on that "could". According to WHO, "Disease X" will be caused by a pathogen which is not yet identified to cause human diseases.

"These diseases pose major public health risks and further research and development is needed, including surveillance and diagnostics", the WHO said in a press release.

"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". "We want to see "plug and play" platforms developed which will work for any, or a wide number of diseases; systems that will allow us to create countermeasures at speed". Ebola, salmonella, and HIV are believed to be zoonoses. 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. The use of chemical weapons is on the rise now, and sometimes, an act of terror may introduce the unknown pathogen to the humankind.

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. However, it also warned that these pathogens still pose a serious risk to public health, and should be "watched carefully".

Not a great deal is known about the disease yet, although World Health Organization warns that Disease X needed to be included on the list because of its unpredictable nature.

The WHO says it omitted several groups of diseases, such as hemorrhagic fevers and emergent non-polio enteroviruses from its priority list. These classes will be considered for inclusion on next year's list.