‘Disease X’ could be the world’s worst nightmare, along with seven other epidemic-causing diseases that could take down mankind in a heartbeat, according to a list released by the World Health Organization.
Simply referred to as 'Disease X' by WHO, the mysterious deadly pathogen no one has ever heard of before joins seven other diseases and related pathogens most likely to cause a worldwide epidemic.
The WHO explained that “‘Disease X’ presents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”
The idea is to draw attention to it.
According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the cryptic name basically stands for the unknown.
“As experience has taught us more often than not, the thing that is gonna hit us is something that we did not anticipate,” Fauci said, per CNN.
“We’ve seen SARS and MRSA emerge, and they weren’t really on people’s list,” infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., senior scholar at the John's Hopkins Center for Health Security, told WomensHealthMag.com. “It’s important for people to think broadly about what causes a disease outbreak. There are a lot of unknowns that may turn out to be important.”
Here are the other deadly epidemic-causing diseases, according to the WHO:
1. Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF). A widespread disease caused by a tick-borne virus which is responsible for severe viral hemorrhagic fever outbreaks.
2. Ebola virus and Marburg virus. These severe, often fatal illnesses in humans are virally transmitted to people from wild animals.
3. Lassa fever. An acute viral hemorrhagic illness that often has no symptoms that occurs in West Africa.
4. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a viral respiratory disease with symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath while SARS was reported as the first severe and readily transmissible new disease to emerge in the 21st century.
5. Nipah and related henipaviral diseases. Nipah virus was first identified during an outbreak in Malaysia in 1998 and there have since been more than 600 cases reported.
6. Rift Valley fever (RVF). This virus infection can cause severe disease in both animals and human and there have been massive outbreaks reported in sub-Saharan Africa since the 1930s.
7. Zika. This virus disease is transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, with cases reported in Africa, the U.S., Asia and the Pacific.
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