‘Disease X’ Could Be the Next Deadliest Disease

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Disease X

Professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum — a scientist who helped discover Ebola — is warning the world about the next deadliest disease humanity faces. Muyembe is concerned about the unknown number of new and potentially fatal viruses called “Disease X,” according to a report from CNN on Jan. 5, 2021.

We are now in a world where new pathogens will come out. And that’s what constitutes a threat for humanity.

‘Disease X’ Could Possibly Be a New Pathogen

Disease XThe professor’s fear comes from a woman who became ill in December 2020. The woman presented symptoms similar to hemorrhagic fever. Hemorrhagic fever symptoms include fatigue, fever, dizziness, and muscle aches.

This type of fever is present in those who are infected by Ebola or yellow fever. People can contract these viruses from rodents and mosquitoes.

The woman lived in an outlying town in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She was tested for Ebola and other similar diseases. All of her tests came back negative — leaving scientists and doctors stumped.

Some scientists have speculated that this woman could possibly be patient zero of “Disease X.” They believe she could possibly be infected with a new pathogen.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published a global plan in 2018. In the “2018 R&D Blueprint” that WHO published they have plans for accelerating research and development — including “Disease X” — during emergency health pandemics.

Also part of that list is COVID-19 which became a pandemic in 2020 — and currently still is. Other diseases listed in the blueprint are:

  • Zika
  • Rift Valley fever
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
  • Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)
  • Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
  • Marburg virus
  • Ebola virus disease
  • Nipah and henipaviral disease.

What Does ‘Disease X’ Stand For?

According to Dr. Anthony Fauci — Director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — “Disease X” stands for the unexpected.  The WHO says that it “represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease.”

Currently “Disease X” remains a hypothetical problem. Scientists and health officials fear a severe disease outbreak could spread around the world.

Muyembe wants to further warn people there are many more zoonotic diseases to come. A zoonotic disease is one that can jump from animals to humans. These viruses have caused pandemics and epidemics numerous times before.

Examples of zoonotic diseases are rabies, yellow fever, and Lyme disease. HIV materialized from a type of Chimpanzee. MERS, SARS, and SARS-CoV-2 are types of coronaviruses that spread from animals to humans.

Written by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

Times of India: What is Disease X? Scientists who discovered Ebola warns against potentially fatal viruses

CNN: Hunting for ‘Disease X’; by Sam Kiley

Inline Image by MONUSCO Photos Courtesy of Wikimedia – Creative Commons License

Featured Image Courtesy of Guilhem Vellut’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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