The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a list of diseases that could potentially become worldwide deadly epidemics, and “Disease X” is included in this list.
The list includes the following:
- Lassa Fever
- CCHF (Crimean-Congo) hemorrhagic fever
- Nipah / henipavirus
- and Disease X.
Disease X represents a pathogen, not yet identified, that could turn and become one of the worst threats yet.
Citing biochemical warfare, gene editing, or Mother Nature’s ability to induce mutations, the WHO believes a benign pathogen that’s currently circulating could jump from animal hosts to humans, or evolve to become a highly virulent, infectious bug.
So the next “Disease X” could be:
- a deadlier strain of flu
- multiple drug resistant gonorrhea
- an avian flu that jump from birds to humans
- a bio-weapon such as release of anthrax
This warning helps remind the globe of the unpredictability and speed at which new epidemics arise.
WHO stated, “Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”
Moreover, diseases such as Zika and Ebola were discovered decades ago, but only recently did they cause fast-moving epidemics, despite smaller sporadic outbreaks in the past. So a currently deadly virus or bacteria that causes isolated cases, if the conditions are right, can ignite a cluster, expand locally in an outbreak, or increase further and become an epidemic.
And humans lack natural immunity to chemical agents and man-made pathogens, hence can be easily overpowered when exposed for the first time.
The formal designation of Disease X will hopefully incite researchers to prepare for what could be a surprise ambush by something that’s been either under our radar for some time or about to be created.
Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD, FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.