What is Disease X?

WHO discovers new killer pathogen is 'Disease X' 1032018

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.

Every year, the World Health Organization publishes an annual Blueprint review that lists diseases and pathogens to prioritise for research and development.

It added Disease X to the rundown after a yearly survey completed from February 6-7, cautioning that there is a "pressing need" for quickened innovative work for the maladies on the rundown.

Since January, Lassa fever has been linked to 1,081 suspected cases and more than 70 deaths in Nigeria and has also spread to Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Blueprint list is maintained for the objective of research and development where World Health Organization has developed a special tool to determine which diseases require immediate attention on research and development. "These diseases pose major public health risks, and further research and development is needed, including surveillance and diagnostics", said the WHO in a statement.

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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 illness - now given the name Disease X - has the potential to spread quickly, and any cures or countermeasures are now severely lacking. It could reportedly emerge from multiple sources and may strike at any time.

"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", Rottingen told the newspaper. "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".

Mr Rottingen said Disease X would most likely be sparked by a "zoonotic disease" jumps from animals to humans and then becomes an epidemic, which happened with H1N1 swine flu in 2009.


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