Scientists put on alert for deadly new pathogen - 'Disease X'

It is believed that Disease X has the potential to mutate from existing diseases such as HIV or the Spanish Flu, although it isn't yet a disease in its own right.

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.

The organisation has described it as representing the "knowledge that a serious global epidemic could be caused by a pathogen now unknown to cause human disease".

However, the most risky seems to be a natural occurring unknown pathogen.

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.

As well as the priority list, WHO listed dengue, yellow fever and HIV/AIDS, as being outside the current scope of the list while still continuing to pose major public health issues. She said that "it may seem odd to be adding an "X" but the point is to 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".

One of the sources of Disease X could be the deliberate utilization of mystery killer disease as a weapon.

"As the ecosystem and human habitats change there is always the risk of disease jumping from animals to humans", Rottingen said.

"This is not an exhaustive list, nor does it indicate the most likely causes of the next epidemic", the World Health Organization said.

"It is vital that we are aware and prepare", said Mr Rottingen.

"It is probably the greatest risk".

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.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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