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Disease X: The Biggest Infectious Threat WHO warns
12 March 2018, 12:53 | Melissa Porter
Disease X is a mystery pathogen that has been added to the WHO’s blueprint for the first time
It added Disease X to the list after an annual review carried out from February 6-7, warning that there is an "urgent need" for accelerated research and development for the maladies on the list.
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.
Mr Rottingen explained Disease X could spark an epidemic if it was passed from animals to humans like HIV, which jumped from chimpanzees to humans claiming the lives of 35million people since the 1980s. And the creation a year ago 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.
Other diseases on WHO's List of Bleuprint Priority Diseases were Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, Ebola, Lassa fever, MERS-CoV, SARS, Nipah and henipaviral diseases, Rift Valley fever, and Zika.
"These diseases pose major public health risks and further research and development is needed, including surveillance and diagnostics", the report read.
"History tells us that it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before", John-Arne Rottingen, chief executive of the Research Council of Norway and a scientific adviser to the World Health Organization committee, said for The Telegraph.
In modern times, humans have spread across the face of the planet, inhabiting and shaping virtually all ecosystems. "It is vital that we are aware and prepare".
The New York Post had also highlighted that the development of biological weapons is easier at present because of gene editing and highly advanced computers. Chemical weapons had already been used in Syria and both the ISIS and al-Qaeda had in the past claimed to have used chemical in some of its terrorist attacks.
The release of the priority list comes as WHO also revealed it has developed a special tool to identify diseases that pose a widespread health risk. Primary care systems (local doctors and nurses) are key to safeguarding public health, as they're our best bet for detecting outbreaks of a new disease early on, and containing it before it spreads.
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. These classes will be considered for inclusion on next year's list.
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