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

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

How is Disease X expected to appear?

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

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a list of priority diseases for 2018 and encourages researchers to guide their efforts towards these diseases for which there is either no treatment or insufficient treatment.

It was the first time that Disease X made the list.

The WHO is concerned about the fact that use of chemical warfare is on the rise and says deadly new diseases have recently been deliberately created through gene editing.

According to experts, Disease X, in all probabilities will be man-made. "They should be watched carefully and considered again at the next annual review". "Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious worldwide epidemic could be caused by a pathogen now unknown to cause human disease", said the World Health Organization in a statement.

A number of additional diseases were discussed and considered for inclusion in the priority list, including: Arenaviral hemorrhagic fevers other than Lassa Fever; Chikungunya; highly pathogenic coronaviral diseases other than MERS and SARS; emergent non-polio enteroviruses (including EV71, D68); Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS); Monkeypox and Leptospirosis.

John-Arne Rottingen, chief executive of the Research Council of Norway and adviser to the World Health Organization, told the Telegraph: '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 to make sure we prepare and plan flexibly in terms of vaccines and diagnostic tests".

Experts have warned that a mysterious, unknown disease could become a global threat that wipes out out millions of humans.

"As the ecosystem and human habitats change there is always the risk of disease jumping from animals to humans", Rottingen said. And the creation previous year in Canada of horsepox - a close relative of the deadly smallpox virus - has heightened fears that Disease X could come out of a renegade laboratory.

"It's a natural process and it is vital that we are aware and prepare. It is probably the greatest risk", said Mr Rottingen.

The WHO's scientists have thought about this, too.

"This makes it more likely new diseases will emerge but also modern travel and trade make it much more likely they will spread".

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